British Broadcasting Corporation Room BC2 A4 Broadcast Centre White City Wood Lane London W12 7TP
Telephone 020 8008 2882 Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Archie Douglas email@example.com
16 January 2020
Dear Mr Douglas, Freedom of Information request – RFI20200011
Thank you for your request to the BBC of 4 January 2020, seeking the following information under
the Freedom of Information Act 2000:
‘In the BBC coverage of the 2109 General Election from 12 October 2019 to 12 December 2019
how many complaints were received in total by the BBC concerning bias in the content?
How many of these stated that the complaint was because there was bias towards the
How many alleged bias towards the Labour Party?’
The information you have requested is excluded from the Act because if held it would be 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
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
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
European Court of Human Rights. Maintaining our editorial independence is a crucial factor in
enabling the media to fulfil this function.
In this case, you have requested information that relates to editorial complaints. Editorial
complaints form part of the on-going review of the standards and quality of particular areas of
programme making with a view to further enhancing these standards; the complaints themselves
and the information associated with them plays a significant role in helping to inform editorial
discussion and decisions going forward. In this way information relating to editorial complaints is
used to inform future content and improve the quality of journalistic output; this is an important
part of the BBC’s process of creating and improving programmes.
However, the BBC makes a huge range of information available about our programmes and
content on bbc.co.uk. 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.
Information Rights BBC Legal
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 channel.
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