Page last updated at 15:01 GMT, Thursday, 5 March 2009

BBC tightens rules on star shows

Jonathan Ross
Ross's radio show is produced by his own company, Hot Sauce

The BBC is tightening its rules on big stars' programmes, banning presenters and their agents from executive producing their own shows.

The move comes in the wake of the row that saw Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand leave offensive messages on actor Andrew Sachs's voicemail last year.

The new regulations cover programmes made in-house and by independent production companies.

Brand's show was produced by the comic's own company, Vanity Projects.

In a subsequent report into the row, dubbed "Sachsgate", the BBC concluded that there was a "lack of direct control by Radio 2".

The rules, under the BBC's new code of compliance, state the "executive producer role on an independent production can also not be undertaken by an agent/agency employee if the talent that the agent/agency represents is appearing in the programme".

Ross's Friday night chat show on BBC One will not be affected by the changes.

His agent, Addison Cresswell, will retain his executive producer credit, although he will not be allowed to deal with making sure the show complies with broadcasting regulations.

For productions which have a scripted narrative or are scripted sketch shows, the BBC said it may accept that it is essential for the on-screen talent to be given an executive producer credit.

In "exceptional" cases such as that of Cresswell, the production will be required to appoint an additional executive producer, responsible for all editorial standards and compliance matters on the programme.

"On-screen and on-air talent plays a vital role in BBC productions," said George Entwistle, controller of editorial standards at BBC Vision, which makes and commissions programmes for the corporation.

He continued: "Artists and their agents need to be free to focus on the creative process while another senior member of the team takes responsibility for ensuring that compliance procedures are followed and editorial standards are met."

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