BBC establishes an editorial standards board

MUMBAI: UK pubcaster the BBC has established an editorial standards board, chaired by the BBC's Deputy DG Mark Byford, and comprising the BBC's most senior output directors, has been established and is undertaking a major programme of work in this area. This group has met weekly and has overseen the work. BBC DG Mark Thompson made this announcement while providing an update to the BBC Trust in which he reported substantial progress in delivering a package of tough and rigorous measures to address concern over recent editorial breaches in competitions and voting.

Thompson says, "The BBC-wide review of our output since 2005 is now completed, and four further serious editorial breaches had been found. None of the further editorial breaches involved premium rate telephone lines. An unprecedented programme of editorial training, Safeguarding Trust, will begin in November. It is expected that all 16,500 BBC production and content staff will participate in the mandatory training programme. This programme is not simply about reinforcing the imperative to understand and comply with all of the BBC's values and editorial standards, including truth and honesty, but in that context will enable staff to debate the right production techniques in light of the current debate about artifice in programmes. Training materials will be made available to other broadcasters and independent producers."

A phased and controlled return of competitions on BBC programmes and online, which are currently suspended, is also expected to begin in November following a strengthening of editorial guidance and control. Competitions will now be approved and supervised at a senior level within each output area. Thompson reported to the Trust that he expected a significant reduction in the number of competitions being broadcast by the BBC, but he recognised that audiences very much enjoyed taking part in BBC programmes in this way.

A full independent inquiry into the incident involving the BBC One autumn season launch and Her Majesty The Queen, which is being conducted by Will Wyatt CBE, is expected to report to Thompson next month. The findings of this inquiry will be made public once they have been considered by the BBC Trust. 

Thompson also informed the Trust that he has commissioned a new online project which will enable the public to explore how contemporary media content is produced. The BBC believes this will be a major contribution to media literacy in Britain.

A BBC working party on the use of premium rate telephony in programme and content areas has made progress Thompson says. This includes the development of new editorial and operational guidance which will form part of the overall management response on strengthening editorial compliance. The group is also revising the BBC's policy on the use of premium rate tariffs and is looking to set up a system of approved service providers of telephony.

Thompson will meet his counterparts in the commercial public service broadcasters later this month to discuss ways of working together to build and restore public confidence and trust in the light of editorial issues across the industry.

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