Producers Handbook

Due Impartiality in Non-News Programmes

Matters of Political or Industrial Controversy & Matters Relating to Current Public Policy

In non-news programmes, there is no general requirement of due impartiality unless the programme is dealing with "matters of political or industrial controversy" or "matters relating to current public policy". The former are defined in the Code as being "... political or industrial issues on which politicians, industry and/or the media are in debate..." for example the government's decision to go to war, the amount of tax charged on petrol, matters giving rise to industrial action/strikes and other similar matters. The latter, that is matters relating to current public policy, are defined as being "... policies that are either under discussion or have been already decided by local, regional or national government or other organisations mandated to make such decisions ...", for example the introduction of laws to deal with terrorism or extending licensing hours. They need not be the subject of debate. It is worth noting that, in many cases, there will be an overlap - many issues will be both matters of political or industrial controversy and at the same time matters of current public policy.

The following rules apply.


Due Impartiality

Programmes dealing with matters of political or industrial controversy or matters relating to current public policy must be duly impartial.

In most cases individual programmes should be duly impartial in themselves. However, impartiality can be achieved over a series of programmes taken as a whole, where more than one programme deals with the same or similar subject, for example a drama followed by a debate or a season of programmes.

Whenever impartiality is to be achieved over two or more programmes, this should be made clear to viewers, for example by an on-air announcement immediately prior to each programme. Producers and editorial staff must seek early advice from the programme lawyer wherever it is intended to achieve impartiality in this way.

Note: this rule applies to both national and international matters, for example foreign elections.

Misrepresentation & Due Weight

Views and facts must not be misrepresented and should be presented with due weight over appropriate timeframes. In each case, "due weight" will be a matter of judgment based on the particular circumstances.

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