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16/12/2003

BBC announce freelancing ban

The BBC have announced changes to the guidelines covering the circumstances in which BBC journalists, presenters and freelancers can write regular columns for newspapers and magazines.
The changes mean that no staff, or regular freelance journalist whose main profile or income comes from the BBC, will be able to write newspaper or magazine columns on current affairs or other contentious issues.
The new arrangements have been approved by the BBC Governors. However, current contracts in place mean that some columns will continue until spring next year.
Articles on specific BBC programmes that are part of an overall press and publicity plan will be allowed, as will columns on non contentious issues and food, film or music reviews, or syndicated articles that appear first on BBC News online.
But all must still be approved by a senior manager and submitted to the relevant publication via the BBC Press Office.
Freelance journalists whose main profile and income is not through the BBC will be exempt.
Current staff and freelance contracts will not need amending.
Senior news managers are already in discussion with those journalists affected, the majority of whom are staff employees.
Director of News Richard Sambrook said: "Impartiality is an essential element to the BBC's reputation and to our journalism.
"When our journalists write in papers it is seen as an extension of their work for the BBC – yet columns and newspaper articles on controversial issues depend on expressing opinions to an extent which is often incompatible with the BBC's impartiality.
"The audience's trust in the independence of the BBC's journalism on all subjects is something we cannot afford to compromise."
The BBC Producer Guidelines dealing with Conflict of Interest will now be redrafted in line with the agreed changes.
(GB)
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