Time delay is a considered judgement

understand Julian Manyon’s concerns about the sanitisation of the
news (BBC time delay “is a negation of journalism”, Press Gazette, 8
July) but we need to distinguish two things.

First, the BBC is
not in the business of delaying news. We aim to report what is
happening as it happens. We want to be first and accurate. But second,
we also want to make considered judgements about what we show when. We
put a short delay on some live feeds to continuous news channels in the
midst of war or sieges or hijackings – very specific and sensitive
circumstances where we judge it right to make a decision about what we
are showing and why.

Real-time, 24-hour feeds bring us images
that once we would have thought about for longer because of their
further potential to damage both dignity and decency. Now it is
instantaneous.

We delay them by a few seconds so that we can
reflect on whether this is an image we should be showing without
warning. We don’t believe we should simply provide front row seats live
at the theatre of death.

What we decide to broadcast in full consideration of the context and the reasons why is something else.

We
may well choose to broadcast very explicit images for precisely the
reasons Manyon advocates. But is should be by intent rather than
accident.

Stephen Whittle controller, editorial policy, BBC London W12

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