BBC launches ‘Verify’ brand

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BBC has launched a fact-checking and disinformation debunking franchise known as BBC Verify, using rather obvious branding that also happens to be used by Tegna in the U.S.

“BBC Verify comprises about 60 journalists who will form a highly specialised operation with a range of forensic investigative skills and open source intelligence (Osint) capabilities at their fingertips,” the BBC said in its announcement of the effort earlier in May 2023.

The branding is further complemented by a logo set in the BBC’s proprietary typeface, BBC Reith, in a bright blue shade. The same blue is used in a background element that uses tiny dots to form the rough shape of a globe.

This design could be both a nod to the global nature of fact-checking as well as a reference to the use of the world wide web to both disseminate and research misinformation. Each dot could read as a data point or “hit” on a server, with all of the them combining to form a unified shape.

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The slightly imperfect outline of the circular element is suggestive of how misinformation, at least on the surface, can seem to be the whole picture and even be supported by facts despite ultimately being inaccurate or misleading.

For its debut, BBC Verify broadcast from a space on one of the mezzanine levels overlooking the main floor of its London newsroom. Dual vertical video panels showcased the branding and globe element. 

The word “Verify” also happens to be used in the U.S. by Tegna’s television stations to identify a similar fact-checking and misinformation prevention unit.

The name has been actively used by Tegna going back to 2017, which is notably the year following the 2016 U.S. elections that largely spurred an increased interest in fact-checking and misinformation. 

Tegna maintains a hub of stories it’s researched at verifythis.com, but typically uses only the word “Verify” (often in all caps) for its branding. Content from stories generate by Tegna’s Verify team is typically posted across all or most of its stations’ websites and social media channels.

Tegna has a U.S. service mark on file for the word “VERIFY” as it relates to “Providing news and reporting on current events and topics of public interest online and via television broadcast,” according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The stylized logo design with distinctive checkmark in place of the “V” is also a registered service mark. 

Under the Madrid Protocol, Tegna’s trademark could be valid in other countries, including the U.K., though the legalities of this are complex.

Tegna does not have any TV stations that operate directly in the U.K., though Verify-branded content from them is obviously available via the Internet and social media networks. 

Meanwhile, the BBC is U.K. based, but it also has operations in the U.S. and content with the BBC Verify branding could be seen on U.S. television via BBC America and the global feed of the 24 hour BBC News channel, as well as via the web.

BBC also appears to use its initials with the franchise branding, which could be used to distinguish the two brands. Tegna typically does not include the word “Tegna” or station names alongside the word.

It’s not immediately clear if BBC’s use of the trademark would conflict with Tegna’s intellectual property or if the two companies have some type of arrangement to use the term. 

Tenga and BBC did not respond to requests for comment on this story or the potential trademark issues.

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