Producers Handbook

Due Impartiality in News Programmes

Due Accuracy Due Impartiality

News, in whatever form, must be reported with due accuracy and presented with due impartiality. In addition to traditional news programmes, "news" includes news bulletins, news flashes and daily news magazine programmes.

Clearly viewers expect news programmes on television to be accurate, in other words factually correct. The requirement of "due" accuracy merely anticipates there may be details in relation to a story that it is acceptable to omit without adversely affecting the story's accuracy.

Presenting a story or item with "due impartiality" means presenting it in an appropriately balanced and fair way, in terms of including the various views, opinions and arguments that might exist in relation to a particular story and not favouring one side over another.

The term "due" is significant in that it means that impartiality should be adequate and appropriate in all the circumstances of the particular story. Broadcasters do not have to give equal time to each and every view or argument that might exist on a particular subject - just what is adequate and appropriate in all the circumstances.


Correcting mistakes

Significant mistakes in news should normally be acknowledged and corrected on air quickly. Corrections should be appropriately scheduled in order to reach a similar audience to the story which included the mistake. If producers become aware of a significant mistake having been broadcast because of a complaint or otherwise, they should immediately seek advice from the programme lawyer. No apology should be made without first having taken legal advice.


Appearances by Politicians in Programmes

Politicians must not be used as newsreaders, interviewers or reporters in news programmes unless, exceptionally, it is editorially justified, in which case that person's political allegiance must be made clear to viewers.

Any proposal to involve politicians in news programmes, other than as interviewees, must first be referred to the commissioning editor for approval who, in turn, should seek advice from the programme lawyer. Ofcom guidance states that the term 'politicians' includes an MP or councillor, a candidate, an applicant to be a candidate or a prospective candidate, an employee of a political party or an activist.

Politicians should not be paid for an interview or contribution except in exceptional circumstances.

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