British Broadcasting Corporation Room BC2 A4 Broadcast Centre White City Wood Lane London W12 7TP
Telephone 020 8008 2882 Email firstname.lastname@example.org
By email: email@example.com
18 December 2018
Dear Michael, Freedom of Information request – RFI20182266
Thank you for your request to the BBC of 04 December 2018, seeking the following information
under the Freedom of Information Act 2000:
“This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
On 4 December 2018 the BBC News Press Team published a statement on Twitter entitled "BBC
statement on Brexit TV debate".
Please could you publish all correspondence between the BBC and 10 Downing Street and
between the BBC and the Leader of the Opposition (or staff thereof) regarding the arrangement
and cancellation of the Brexit TV debate.
For the avoidance of any doubt, I do not consider that BBC holds this information for the purposes
of journalism, art or literature either direct or indirectly. The information is very clearly held for the
purposes of political debate on the future of the United Kingdom.”
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
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
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. Maintaining our editorial independence is a crucial factor in
enabling the media to fulfil this function.
That said, the BBC 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, tel: 0303 123 1113 or see https://ico.org.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.
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 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 Audience Services.
The Act does apply to all of the other information we hold about the management and running
of 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
The BBC's remit as a public service broadcaster is defined in the BBC Charter and Agreement.
It is the responsibility of the Ofcom (the BBC’s independent regulator) to ensure that the
organisation delivers against this remit by setting key objectives, approving strategy and policy,
and monitoring and assessing performance. Ofcom also safeguard the BBC's independence and
ensure the Corporation is accountable to its audiences and to Parliament.