Section 10: Politics, Public Policy and Polls - Introduction

Section 10.1

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The principles relating to the BBC’s political impartiality and independence from political influence are central to our coverage of politics and public policy. Over an appropriate timeframe we must aim to give due weight and prominence to all the main strands of argument and to all relevant political parties. Although those in government will often be the primary source of news and will, in particular, need to be held to account, the voices and opinions of other parties should also be routinely aired and challenged. One of the BBC’s public purposes is ‘To provide impartial news and information to help people understand and engage with the world around them … so that all audiences can engage fully with major local, regional, national, United Kingdom and global issues and participate in the democratic process, at all levels, as active and informed citizens. [1]’ It follows that there is a special responsibility to audiences who are about to vote in elections or referendums.

Political opinion and campaigning are not limited to political parties and due impartiality must apply across the range of political activity and to all contributors to political debate.

The Guidelines in this section should be read in conjunction with Section 4 Impartiality. Following both will ensure the BBC’s output meets the standards in Sections 5 (Due Impartiality and Due Accuracy and Undue Prominence of Views and Opinions) and 6 (Elections and Referendums) of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code.

The BBC must treat matters of politics and public policy with due accuracy and impartiality and must not express an opinion on matters of public policy other than policy concerning broadcasting or the provision of online services.

[1] Article 6(1) Broadcasting: Royal Charter for the Continuance of the British Broadcasting Corporation December 2016.

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