Producers Handbook

Fairness & Accuracy

In programme-making, 'fairness' and 'accuracy' go hand-in-hand. If a programme is inaccurate, the chances are it will be unfair to people featured or referred to within it. Ensuring programmes are accurate, therefore, is of paramount importance in fairness terms as well as 'viewer trust' terms.

Programmes, including dramas, that refer to real people, organisations or events, even indirectly, must be thoroughly and properly researched with material facts checked and, where appropriate, corroborated. In addition, programme-makers should think carefully about who the programme is likely to affect and, in turn, what the effect is likely to be. This will have a direct bearing on who should be consulted and/or approached to contribute to the programme.

Programme-makers must ensure that material facts are not presented, disregarded or omitted in a way that is unfair to an individual or organisation and anyone whose omission could be unfair should be offered an opportunity to contribute. See 'Opportunity to Respond'.

Similarly, fact-based dramas and reconstructions of real events should not portray facts, events, individuals or organisations in a way which is unfair to an individual or organisation. It should normally be made clear whether a programme lays claim to be a dramatised documentary, that is a faithful reconstruction subject to the same journalistic rigour as a factual documentary, or whether it is merely based on or inspired by real life events.

Fairness issues (as with those relating to privacy) can broadly be divided into those relating to individuals or organisations actually taking part in programmes - "contributors"; and those not taking part but who are otherwise referred to - "non-contributors".

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