British Broadcasting Corporation Room BC2 B6 Broadcast Centre White City Wood Lane London W12 7TP
Telephone 020 8008 2882 Email [BBC request email]
Information Policy & Compliance
Sent by email to: <[FOI #183362 email]>
4th December 2013
Dear Martina, Freedom of Information request – RFI20131646
Thank you for your request to the BBC of 4 November 2013, seeking the following information
under the Freedom of Information Act 2000:
Can you provide me with the number of foreign news offices you have?
How many journalists are based at each office?
What is the annual cost for BBC in sustaining each office?
The information you have requested is excluded from the Act because it is held for the purposes
of ‘journalism, art or literature’. The BBC is therefore not obliged to provide this information to
you and will not be doing so on this occasion. Part VI of Schedule 1 to FOIA provides that
information held by the BBC and the other public service broadcasters is only covered by the Act
if it is held for ‘purposes other
than those of journalism, art or literature”. The BBC is not required
to supply information held for the purposes of creating the BBC’s output or information that
supports and is closely associated with these creative activities.1
You may not be aware that one of the main policy drivers behind the limited application of the Act
to public service broadcasters was to protect freedom of expression and the rights of the media
under Article 10 European Convention on Human Rights (“ECHR”). The BBC, as a media
organisation, is under a duty to impart information and ideas on all matters of public interest and
the importance of this function has been recognised by the European Court of Human Rights.
1 For more information about how the Act applies to the BBC please see the enclosure which follows this letter.
Please note that this guidance is not intended to be a comprehensive legal interpretation of how the Act applies to the
Maintaining our editorial independence is a crucial factor in enabling the media to fulfil this
That said, on this occasion we’re happy to provide some information in response to your request,
because it is already published, that we have BBC reporters in nearly 100 locations worldwide.
The BBC also makes a huge range of information available about our programmes and content on
bbc.co.uk. We also proactively publish information covered by the Act on our publication scheme
and regularly handle requests for information under the Act. Appeal Rights
The BBC does not offer an internal review when the information requested is not covered by the
Act. If you disagree with our decision you can appeal to the Information Commissioner. Contact
details are: Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire,
SK9 5AF telephone 01625 545 700. http://www.ico.gov.uk
Please note that should the Information Commissioner’s Office decide that the Act does cover
this information, exemptions under the Act might then apply.
Head of Business Affairs
BBC Global News
Freedom of Information
From January 2005 the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000 gives a general right of access to all
types of recorded information held by public authorities. The Act also sets out exemptions from that
right and places a number of obligations on public authorities. The term “public authority” is defined in
the Act; it includes all public bodies and government departments in the UK. The BBC, Channel 4,
S4C and MG Alba are the only broadcasting organisations covered by the Act. Application to the BBC
The BBC has a long tradition of making information available and accessible. It seeks to be open and
accountable and already provides the public with a great deal of information about its activities. BBC
Audience Services operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week handling telephone and written
comments and queries, and the BBC’s website bbc.co.uk provides an extensive online information
It is important to bear this in mind when considering the Freedom of Information Act and how it
applies to the BBC. The Act does not apply to the BBC in the way it does to most public authorities in
one significant respect. It recognises the different position of the BBC (as well as Channel 4 and S4C)
by saying that it covers information “held for purposes other than those of journalism, art or
literature”. This means the Act does not apply to information held for the purposes of creating the
BBC’s output (TV, radio, online etc), or information that supports and is closely associated with these
A great deal of information within this category is currently available from the BBC and will continue
to be so. If this is the type of information you are looking for, you can check whether it is available on
the BBC’s website bbc.co.uk or contact BBC Audience Services.
The Act does apply to all of the other information we hold about the management and running of the
BBC. The BBC
The BBC's aim is to enrich people's lives with great programmes and services that inform, educate and
entertain. It broadcasts radio and television programmes on analogue and digital services in the UK. It
delivers interactive services across the web, television and mobile devices. The BBC's online service is
one of Europe's most widely visited content sites. Around the world, international multimedia
broadcaster BBC World Service delivers a wide range of language and regional services on radio, TV,
online and via wireless handheld devices, together with BBC World News, the commercially-funded
international news and information television channel.
The BBC's remit as a public service broadcaster is defined in the BBC Charter and Agreement. It is
the responsibility of the BBC Trust (the sovereign body within the BBC) to ensure that the
organisation delivers against this remit by setting key objectives, approving strategy and policy, and
monitoring and assessing performance. The Trustees also safeguard the BBC's independence and
ensure the Corporation is accountable to its audiences and to Parliament.
Day-to-day operations are run by the Director-General and his senior management team, the
Executive Board. All BBC output in the UK is funded by an annual Licence Fee. This is determined and
regularly reviewed by Parliament. Each year, the BBC publishes an Annual Report & Accounts, and
reports to Parliament on how it has delivered against its public service remit.