BBC World News must change acquisitions policy

The BBC Trust has pinpointed fifteen acquired programmes that broke editorial guidelines for its international World News channel. It has laid out new rules on acquisitions that mean the BBC will no longer buy any low-cost programmes for the channel or shows carrying any sponsorship or commercial message.

Shows from indie producer FBC received the most criticism alongside programmes bought from Planet Pictures, Rockhopper TV and Spanish public broadcaster RTVE were all censured.

“BBC World News will not acquire programmes for a low or nominal cost and it will no longer accept sponsorship from non-commercial organisations,” the Trust said, outlining changes to its acquisition policy.

The Trust added that BBC director general Mark Thompson had already implemented measures to avoid the broadcast of inappropriate content again and that it has asked him to conduct a follow-up audit.

The changes were sparked by a controversy surrounding alleged conflicts of interest in a Rockhopper TV show about carbon emissions called Taking the Credit and in several shows from FBC with segments about Malaysia. FBC was allegedly being paid to conduct a communications campaign for the Malaysian government and the Trust said that four episodes of FBC’s Develop or Die and two episodes apiece from One Square Mile and Third Eye, breached its editorial guidelines.

BBC Trustee Richard Ayre said:  We have found that several programmes shown on the BBC’s World News channel had been inappropriately sponsored, and in the case of one of the independent producers, FBC Media (UK) Ltd, there was at least a suggestion that the company had a conflict of interest of which the BBC had been unaware.”

Other shows singled out by the Trust include Planet Pictures’ Nature Inc. and TVE’s Earth Reporters.

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