BBC executives are reportedly considering a ban on stars tweeting to disclose forthcoming programme details
The BBC could be on the verge of introducing a clause to its contracts that forbids actors, writers and other ‘talent’ from using social networks and online forums to discuss details of their work.
‘Senior sources’ reportedly told the Guardian newspaper that a group of senior BBC executives were campaigning for the change, following a series of revelations on micro-blogging site Twitter. These include singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor (pictured) who revealed that she was to appear in Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s new comedy ‘Life’s Too Short’, alongside Sting.
Actor Stephen Mangan also revealed on Twitter that the drama Dirk Gently had been recommissioned, and Armando Iannucci announced the return of the comedy ‘The Thick of It’ before the BBC was ready to make it public.
Disrupting marketing campaigns
The Guardian’s source said that it can be “quite disruptive” if artists tweet about an appearance on a show before the broadcaster is ready to reveal the news. The executive highlighted several reasons why the broadcaster might want to delay announcements, such as the deal not being finalised or contracts not being signed – or the broadcaster wanting to make a big splash.
The BBC responded to a request by eWEEK Europe for a response to the story, explaining that the corporation already has formal guidelines governing what staff can put on their profile pages.
“We have clear guidelines for personal and professional use of Twitter and social media, all available online,” said a spokesperson. “Most talent tweeting fall under the personal usage bracket, and are advised by their agents/producers and we encourage them to read our guidelines.”
The guidelines do not offer any specific advice to artists working on BBC productions, but stipulate that personal blogs, microblogs and websites belonging to members of staff should not reveal confidential information about the BBC.
Twitter in the spotlight
The news follows a report last month by TOA Technologies, which warned that companies should be wary of disgruntled customers who are increasingly turning to Twitter to complain about customer service experiences – potentially damaging an organisation’s brand equity.
The survey found that more than 1 million people per week view Tweets related to customer service experiences with a variety of service providers and that more than 80 percent of those Tweets reflect a critical or negative customer experience.
Meanwhile, Twitter users now face prosecution for breaking privacy injunctions, after a single user broke British privacy laws by tweeting a list of celebrities who – it was claimed – had taken out injunctions. Attorney General Dominic Grieve said he would initiate an action himself against an injunction breaker, if he thought it justified.
“I will take action if I think that my intervention is necessary in the public interest, to maintain the rule of law, proportionate and will achieve an end of upholding the rule of law,” he told BBC 4′s Law in Action programme. “It is not something, however, I particularly want to do.”
Twitter confirmed that it would be prepared to hand over the details of those users who breach super injunctions, if “legally required”.