The BBC and Editorial Standards: Where To Draw The Line

In a recent BBC meeting, Director-General Mark Thompson has urged presenters and executives to continue their creativity and not feel stifled by the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines.

In the high profile meeting, which was attended by the likes of Bruce Forsyth, Jeremy Clarkson and John Humphrys, Thompson stressed that the recent taste and decency rows should not limit the BBC’s innovation in other areas.  It is believed that the meeting’s aim was to act as a ‘moral boost’ to the corporation’s talent following the recent intensification of politically correct programme content.

The decision to invite BNP leader Nick Griffin on Question TIme and airing the political satire ‘The Thick of It’ shows that the public service broadcaster was not afraid of controversy.

According to Thompson, the BBC should not be afraid to ‘push boundaries’ and make risque jokes for the good of a programme, intoning that there is a ‘freedom at the BBC to take risks’.

This is in direct contrast to the ‘climate of fear’ that has seemingly been induced among the corporation, where comedians, presenters and producers are constantly aware of breaking strict editorial guidelines.

Recently, a furore broke out over the ‘unjust’ content of ‘Mock the Week’, where Olympic swimmer Rebecca Adlington’s appearance was criticised; in the political programme’ This Week’, Andrew Neil’s comments about a black MP were erased from the iPlayer edition after they prompted complaints from viewers.

Now, it appears that the atmosphere is one of retrenchment.  However, with new Editorial Guidelines due for release in early 2010, many key individuals remain unclear as to where they stand and to what extent current policy will intervene in programme production and content.

Equally, it is unclear whether comedy, entertainment or political programmes will suffer as a result of the misty circumstances.  Nonetheless, all parties hope that 2010 will bring more clarity to the tangled mess of 2009 legislation and broadcasting.

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