Burnt buildings in the aftermath of London riots at Lavender Hill, ClaphamCredit: Bayerberg on Flickr. Some rights reserved
In a report the BBC said production orders were made under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act against the three broadcasters, to help the police identify people involved.
"Police requests for BBC untransmitted material are dealt through our legal department, regardless of the subject matter," a spokesman said.
"We require requests for untransmitted material to be made through the courts. A production order requiring footage of the riots was served on the BBC and a court agreed that the material should be supplied."
According to the BBC the court order asks the broadcasters to disclose any broadcast or unbroadcast video or still pictures.
In August, following the riots, prime minister David Cameron said in parliament that media organisations had a responsibility to hand over unused footage of rioters to the police.
At the time the BBC said it would not hand over material without a court order.
Today a Sky spokesman added that its standard policy is also not to supply material to the police without a court order.
"On occasions, as has happened with some of our footage of the riots, where police request untransmitted material and an order is obtained we will comply with it," they added.
An ITN spokesperson added: "ITN's policy is that we do not release unbroadcast material to police.
"On some occasions when the police apply to a judge for a court order to force the release of such material, we have challenged the police's application."
The Metropolitan police issued a statement to say: "The police are identifying people through pictures, CCTV and through the media to ensure that people are brought to justice.
"We would ask the media to work with the police to ensure that happens."
Update: The National Union of Journalists has criticised the courts for forcing media organisations to supply riot footage and photographs to the police.
"The NUJ has condemned and has expressed disappoint that leading broadcasters and at least one national newspaper have done so," the NUJ said in a statement released on this morning (23 September).
"The NUJ is appalled that riot footage has been given to the police and the NUJ strongly believes that such a move places all journalists at greater risk when covering public order or other related stories."
NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “Journalists played a critical role in informing the public about the riots in August and our members were attacked whilst doing their jobs during the civil unrest. Covering protests is already difficult and the danger increases if the footage gathered whilst reporting events is seized and used by the police.”
NUJ London Photographers' Branch secretary Jason N Parkinson said: "What the BBC, ITN and Sky News have done is turn every photographer, videographer and journalist into potential targets and this will only lead to an increase in the number of assaults on the press while covering events."
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