Damien Shannon [[FOI #42498 email]]
August 2nd, 2010
Dear Mr Shannon
Freedom of Information request – RF20101013
Thank you for your request to the BBC of July 22nd, seeking the following information under the
Freedom of Information Act 2000:
"I would like to be supplied with the selection criteria the BBC use when it comes to deciding who to
select from among the many applicants to participate in the 'Question Time' audience."
Please note that your request is outside the scope of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (“the
Act”) but we are happy to explain that the programme ensures that there is due balance between the
main political parties, as well as minor parties and unaligned voters in the audience.
We hope you find this helpful.
Please note that the information you have requested is excluded from the Act because it is held for
the purposes of ‘journalism, art or literature.’ 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” 1. The BBC is not required by
the Act 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; however, on this occasion we’re happy
to provide the above information in response to your request.
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
1 For more information about how the Act applies to the BBC please see the enclosure at the end of this letter. Please
note that this guidance is not intended to be a comprehensive legal interpretation of how the Act applies to the BBC.
details are: Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire,
SK9 5AF telephone 01625 545 700. http://www.ico.gov.uk
Chief Assistant, BBC News Programmes
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 and S4C are the only broadcasters 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 Information 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 resource.
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 creative activities.
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 Information.
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 Europe's most widely visited content site. Across the
world, the BBC broadcasts radio programmes in 32 languages on the BBC World Service and
the 24 hour television service, BBC World News.
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
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