BBC news guidelines introduce delay

June 27, 2005

New guidelines from the BBC introduce a delay into live coverage of unfolding news stories to give editors time to prevent “distressing, upsetting images” from being broadcast, according to a report in The New York Times.

While the British state broadcaster has had a similar policy in place, the guidelines are the first time such a delay has been formalized in writing.

According to the report, the BBC has considered instituting the delay guidelines since terrorist took over a school in Beslan, Russia, last year in which more than 300 people perished.

With the delay, editors could review live feeds for several seconds before broadcasting incoming live feeds to the public, providing an opportunity for grisly scenes to be cut.

According to the newspaper, BBC newsgathering policies have been scrutinized since drawing the ire of the British government for reporting that it had intentionally overstated the case for going to war in Iraq. An inquiry into the affair found defective editorial judgment in that instance.

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