Foreword by Tony Hall

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The BBC’s Editorial Guidelines have been at the heart of our journalism and programme-making for decades.

The Guidelines set the standards for the BBC. They represent the wisdom of nearly 100 years of programme-making. They help us to be ambitious and confident in the choices we make, and are an essential tool for anybody producing content for us.

The Guidelines are designed to support our creativity. They provide the justification for many of the challenging things we do in the public interest. They are set by the BBC Board and also reflect the requirements of our regulator, Ofcom.

This is the seventh edition we’ve produced – and it’s published in a media landscape that’s changed dramatically since the last set was devised.

It’s just a few short years since the term ‘fake news’ entered our lexicon. It’s now a weapon of choice used worldwide. In a world of misinformation, our values have never been more important. That’s why accuracy, impartiality and fairness are given such prominence in these Guidelines. It’s also why they have been updated to include all that we do on social media.

Stories are broken, shared, expanded at the touch of a screen, every second, every day. That’s an astonishing advance. It can be a tremendously exciting, but challenging, environment to work in. And these Guidelines are a constant reference point for teams making decisions around content, comment and debate – including what we post online and on social media.

One of the other critical things that’s changed is that we’ve put freedom of expression at the heart of the Guidelines. We’re making that commitment explicit for the first time. It’s a fundamental principle and is at the heart of our Charter and our values.

We have the immense privilege of leading the BBC. We’re here to produce programmes of the highest quality; content audiences can trust. And to do so fairly, decently and with all the care people would expect from the BBC.

Audiences rightly count on us for a great range of original UK drama, comedy, documentary, sport, music, entertainment and journalism. They expect us to do so with the greatest integrity, and to the highest ethical and creative standards. That’s what these Guidelines seek to promote and why they matter so much to all of us.

Tony Hall


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