HuffPost Takeover of BBC 5 Live Breaches BBC’s Own Rules

Late last night the BBC Press Office told us: “We always have complete and sole responsibility for our editorial output. Our Twenties Takeover is about hearing from younger voices. We’ve worked with HuffPost UK on this project, and we will be hearing a full range of viewpoints throughout the day. We are open to working with other platforms in the future.”

The BBC made the following points:

  • “The Takeover title refers to twentysomethings not HuffPost UK. They are doing their own coverage on the day – separate to 5 Live. They have no say over our coverage.”

Pictured above are Lucy Pasha-Robinson and Basia Cummings tweeted out from the 5 Live studio. They are respectively the HuffPost deputy blogs editor and the HuffPost news editor, broadcasting from the 5 Live studio. Basia, according to what Guido heard on 5 Live was in the BBC’s newsroom and was credited as producing “The Takeover”. George Bowden, a HuffPost reporter seems to think he’s also got a say in the BBC’s coverage:

  • “Working with an outside organisation allows us to have more impact. We wanted to work with a platform that has a young demographic in line with the BBC’s aim to reach younger audiences.”

The BBC has the biggest share of every demographic in Britain, including young people by virtue of BBC Radio 1.

  • “The involvement of HuffPost UK on air will be very limited. None of their reporters are co-presenting our programmes.”

In the 2 hours since 06:45 when we started monitoring HuffPost has been namechecked 14 times. Advertising you literally can’t buy on the BBC.

  • “There will be a range of twentysomething contributors on air – some from the BBC and some from other organisations including, we hope, Guido Fawkes.”

We tried for days to get our own twentysomething journalists involved and the BBC refused our offer of providing some balance to the left-wing HuffPost website.

  • “There are clear BBC guidelines around prominence and we will work within those. This project has been approved from an editorial perspective.”

BBC guidelines state that they must “maintain a clear distinction between advertising and editorial content. There must be no subliminal or surreptitious advertising on any BBC commercial service or in any programme made by a BBC commercial service.” The 14 name checks advertising HuffPost – so far – including on-air presenters directing listeners to the HuffPost website, are clearly in breach of the guidelines. Imagine if the BBC had made a deal with The Sun Online – a website with a young demographic –  to promote them all day. There would be an outcry…


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