Form is important in information programming. Production techniques contribute to the meaning of our content and its impact. They help focus attention and can facilitate understanding. Our use of production techniques is consistent with factual accuracy and fairness in our reporting. This means we make judicious choices when information content is presented with music or visual effects that could affect perception or impact.
We are clear and open about the production methods we use, so the audience can put our images, sound and statements in their proper context. We advise the audience of the use of certain techniques, for example the reenactment of a scene, the use of archival material in scenes of current events or the use of clandestine methods.
Form of reporting on litigious subjects
Pre-recorded material that has undergone a rigorous editorial process is generally the surest way to avoid errors in reports that could be litigious or could prejudice the reputation of a person or an organization.
We may also use live on-air reporting provided all the following conditions are met:
• A script or detailed scenario is prepared for a live stand-up or other live exchange, including presentation, illustrations, audio and visual clips and headlines
• All elements of the scenario are submitted for the appropriate approvals
• The approved scenario is adhered to.
Use of archival material
Illustrating a subject often requires the use of visual or audio material that we have not recorded ourselves, such as stock footage. But the use of stock footage and sound in scenes of current events must not give rise to confusion. If there is a risk of misinterpretation, we will advise the audience of the context and/or date of the archives used. The stock footage will not be used in such a way that distorts either the historical or current reality.
Reconstitutions, simulations and generic scenes
A reenactment of an event must match the reality as closely as possible. When a reenactment is necessary for a proper understanding of the subject, we take care to be factually accurate, using transcriptions, minutes or official documents. We may use a transcript word for word or set the reenactment in the location where the actual scene occurred. To eliminate any risk that the audience will confuse the reenactment with the reality, we will ensure that the audience can clearly identify the reenacted scenes.
Other methods of illustrating a subject may attempt to describe a situation in general terms without pretending to be a precisely accurate rendering of reality. Such methods can be used, subject to certain conditions.
A simulated scene aims to evoke or give an impression of an event, its protagonists, their actions and the place where the event occurred. A simulated scene is produced and presented in a way that makes clear it is an evocation rather than a precise depiction of reality. If a risk of confusion remains, we advise the audience that the scene is simulated not real.
Generic scenes are commonly used in audiovisual production. These are often everyday actions like walking, answering the phone, looking at a document, closing a door. These scenes clearly serve as general illustration and in no way pretend to describe real facts precisely.
Explicit sexual or violent content
Violence, nudity and sexuality are never presented without good reason. They may be justified when they are important to an understanding of the world we live in. Where they are necessary, we present them without undue exploitation, voyeurism or sensationalism and without trivializing, encouraging or glorifying.
We treat painful scenes with discretion and restraint and without prolonging them unduly.
When it is necessary to present explicit content that some could find shocking, we provide an audience advisory.
Brand protection; fiction
CBC’s credibility and brand as an information provider must never be compromised. Information content may be accompanied by advertising or promotion. However, we do not commercially exploit the brand of our information programs and content in any way detrimental to our independence, credibility or integrity as a public service.
Any proposal to have journalists simulate their work in fiction, parody or advertising must be referred to the General Manager and Editor in Chief.