Ethics are a set of morale principles in which a person or group of people lives by. In the UK media sector specifically the BBC who according to their charter “The BBC exists to serve the public interest.”
Ethics can affect a TV producers decisions and content he can use. In the BBC’s case they have a series of guidelines that dictate the requirements for a program to be ethically sound. The BBC editorial lines serve to guide producers around ethical issues like impartiality, accuracy, privacy etc…
The following is a series of descriptions that cover the principles and practices governing the BBC.
- Accuracy: the principle of the BBC must be to deliver information which can be backed up with hard evidence and precise language so as to avoid misleading audiences. They are not allowed to knowingly mislead audiences by distorting information and they must know the integrity of their sources. In practice when gathering information they should take notes and maintain records of all their dealings with contributors, this is done so that they can reference them later to ensure accuracy. In regards to contributors they should always be acknowledged publicly and backgrounds should be checked. other areas include correcting any mistakes and checking programs to keep them up to date.
- Impartiality: the BBC states that all controversial subjects must be treated with due weight so that sides of the argument are equally represented. In practice different groups with different opinions are given equal say. Sometimes outside contributors are required to provide information on the sensitivity of a situation, for example in politics the BBC must take guidance from a Chief advisor in politics.
- Harm and Offence: In order to protect the physical, mental and moral well being of children and young people the 9pm watershed exists to regulate any material which may be considered harmful to them. This is applied to almost all television broadcasters even beyond the BBC. In practice consideration should be given to how the violence is edited so as to cut out any distressful images such as blood, dismemberment and so on. steps must be taken to ensure any harmful material is not shown during any live out put.
- Fairness, Contributors and Consent: care must be taken when considering the legal matters, safety and confidentiality of contributors when dealing with them. We must be honest and straightforward and fair. In practice the contributor must know why they are being asked to contribute, the context of the content and the nature of their involvement. Deception is only nesscesary to protect public interest when the full purpose of the output is not revealed to the contributor.
- Privacy: there must be a balance between the public interest of freedom of expression and rights of an individuals privacy. In practice all contributors who give informed consent are assumed to have given up their privacy in regards to their image and audio. when using webcams consent is required to broadcast the visual feed.
- Conflicts of Interest: the external individuals activities of those who work must at the BBC must not conflict with public’s preceptions of the various topics already mentioned here among others. in practice there exist sets of guidelines for those who work at the BBC. They must feature any talent that may undermine the BBC’s reputation.
- Interacting with our audiences: All interactivity with the audience must be conducted in fair, honest and legal fashion. In practice this means when competitions are held all qualifying entrants must have same chance of winning and the game should be set up as such. When broadcasting pre-recorded footage steps must be taken to ensure that the audience is not mis-lead into thinking it is live output.