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Monthly Archives: September 2010

channel 4 editorial ethics masterclass 2 : privacy

by Amy Walker

All of the C4 speakers were keen to stress that these guidelines act as an accompaniment to the Independent Producer Handbook, so please click on the link to that at the bottom of this page for more comprehensive info.

Mark Lambert, (C4 Senior Lawyer, Legal & Compliance)

Even RECORDING some footage, whether it’s transmitted or not, can be seen as infringement of privacy.

Any potential infringement of the privacy laws must be WARRANTED – you must justify it by disclosing information that affects the public.

We all have a right of privacy but this DIFFERS FOR ORDINARY MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC AND CELEBRITIES or people in the public eye – Mark gave an example of exposing hypocrisy amongst politicians who make a stand on public values.

When it’s PRIVATE IN PUBLIC – Mark gave the example of CCTV footage of someone trying to commit suicide in a town square.  This was in a public place, but a private situation, so it would not be acceptable to transmit footage like this.

SECRET FILMING – anyone planning to film secretly for C4 must make a SECRET FILMING APPLICATION to C4.  (There are also notes in the Producers Handbook on this).  Permission is granted when the footage is necessary to the credibility of a story, and if the action in it could happen again.

DATA PROTECTION – use information fairly and lawfully and KEEP IT SECURE.  Shred documents containing personal data and encrypt files.  Pretend it’s your own personal data or treat it like MONEY – don’t lose it or get it stolen.

Refer privacy issues EARLY to Comm Ed and the Legal & Compliance Dept.

Leonie Jameson (Producer, Wildcard Production)

PRIOR PUBLICATION does NOT justify infringement of privacy.

Every person in a controversial story should CORROBORATE THE EVIDENCE used in a film.

Leonie cited a biography of Moses which involved filming people in public or semi-public, at private moments. When filming in a Church for example, notices of filming must be posted, as in any enclosed public building.

SUFFERING AND DISTRESS

Leonie talked about an interview with Gerry Adams, to be included in a film about a man whose wife was killed by an IRA bomb.  The programme lawyer advised the production team to tell the widower that the footage of Gerry Adams would be used in advance of TX.  In the same film it had been intended to include footage of an interview with the victim’s mother, given at the time of the bombing. It was decided to omit this footage, although it had been in the public domain, because it intruded into private grief and the retransmission would have caused distress.

Tamara Abood (C4 Commissioning Editor, News & Current Affairs).

When filming in secret you must CONVINCE C4 that PUBLIC INTEREST JUSTIFIES THE INVASION OF PRIVACY.

You need to SHOW EVIDENCE OF WRONG-DOING, explain why you can’t obtain the footage conventionally, and show the public interest justification.  You can’t go on a “fishing expedition”, you must have sufficient grounds or evidence before you start.

When filming a series in schools, the decision was made to only use footage of kids talking about their school lives, not homelife.

CONSENT FORMS – it may be necessary to agree the wording of these with the Commissioner.  Be aware you may be sowing the seeds of an Ofcom ruling if these are misleading.  The paper trail in your programme-making is very important as an investigation may look at transcripts of interviews.

OBTAIN RELEASE FORMS IN A PUBLIC AREA IF THE SITUATION IS SENSITIVE – i.e. in a church, a hospital, a school.

Note that PRIVACY LAWS VARY ABROAD – essentially the restrictions depend on the jurisdiction of the country of broadcast, but France, for example, has stricter privacy laws – it’s ok for UK broadcast but you will need to check if your programme is being distributed overseas.

At what point is privacy invaded?  RX or TX?  It’s probably ok to film something and then check afterwards, but not always.  OFCOM states that a breach of privacy can be committed in the filming itself, so it’s worth talking to the legal team early on about your methods and approach in notebooks too.

Channel 4 & 5 Handbook : http://www.independentproducerhandbook.co.uk/

Ofcom guidelines: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/tv/ifi/

BBC Editorial Guidelines: http://www.bbc.co.uk/guidelines/editorialguidelines/

If you would like to attend the next Channel 4 Editorial Ethics Masterclass on October 6th from 9:30am – 4:30pm please email us through the site.

September 5, 2010 @ 7:44 pm Posted in Events, News Comments Off