Clarifying vague BBC/staff claims of public inclusivity and/or national representation

The request was refused by British Broadcasting Corporation.

Dear British Broadcasting Corporation,

The BBC, it seems, feels it ‘speaks’ for the nation, and has done for a quite a while, in doing so often confusing claimed account-holding questions with an opportunity to drive advocacy, which is as I write I grant you ironic.

For sure it is a state broadcaster and bears the name of the country as its brand, but just how representative is it, and its staff, to have such a presumption?
"What should we take from Prime Minister Theresa May's first meeting with President Donald Trump?”

FOI Q1 - Who is this ‘we’ from and to whom this explanation is delivered?

This can and does matter as the BBC is often perceived as the primary face or voice of Great Britain abroad.
"Now this is not the time and place to unpick these historical events"

But if not when the BBC wants, when? New Head of News James Harding equally avoids such questions and if pressed circles wagons referring to ‘firing squads of peers’.

But what about the public?

"It is the journalists' job to hold power to account – to shine light in dark places"

It is also incumbent upon them, especially as public broadcasters, to allow the light to shine one them too. I merely invite anyone to look at BBC complaints performance or DPA exemption rates to see how that works out.
"So to end where I started – with the BBC motto: "nation shall speak peace unto nation."

What does it actually mean in practice?"

Indeed. Especially as this can often seem contrary to the best interests of the country on the world stage:
"Which leaves the press conference attendees in fits of laughter”

Not a moment of national pride? Has something changed for the even worse?
"To be frank, I worry about the direction in which we’re going. By “we”, by the way, I mean my profession, our profession – the media generally – not the BBC in particular. “

This lady also rather famously bragged about having an email to nowhere in her capacity as head of complaints.

I include this for two reasons:

1) The mirroring of the BBC’s too frequent use of vague claims such as ‘some people’, and the heft they deserve
2) How the heft of the BBC is piggy-backed by other minor media to make dubious cases

It also leads of course to much soul searching by interested parties monitoring such things from all sides of the political spectrum in analysing democratic process, free speech and media influences:
"Laura Kuenssberg, the BBC’s Political Editor, said ‘Among the many jewels and gifts that the BBC has is our editorial independence’. She went on to argue ‘I would die in a ditch for the impartiality of the BBC. That’s what we do.’ Is the BBC independent and impartial?
Tom Mills: The simple answer is ‘no’.”

This highlights why questions need to be asked of the BBC outside of the BBC, because a power being held to account by itself can easily find ways to not answer. And questions are now being asked more and more:
"Everyone should see this extract from the USA and Canada part of the BBC News website.
Apart from the anti-Trump rhetoric throughout which we might have come to expect, look at the sentence about Theresa May - and the 'questions asked by the BBC'. This is for their US and Canadian readers. Does our licence fee really fund the broadcast of such biased and negative sentiments?"

And having already mentioned ironies, there is this of course:

The BBC Complaints system of course mounts its staunchest defences based on what the BBC thinks people ‘meant', and what other people 'may take' from how BBC staff ‘interpret' things they garner, before passing though the BBC editorial filter, too often broadcast more as fact, or acceptable allusion, that ‘people’ (presumably of this nation) will understand (without this being checked) and are happy to go out in their name (again without check or permission).

In coming to a conclusion I do note this should the reasonable questions I have posed as a member of the UK population apparently spoken for by the BBC, get refused or fudged:

This can and does appear to encourage the BBC to test limits ever more, and this is unfortunate:
"BBC news output is specifically designed to counter what it sees as ignorance and popular prejudices.”

Which, of course, is not what it is Charter-bound to do, and fails in daily. Clearly. Hence:

Q2 - Please provide the data that supports the inference and/or claims that the BBC speaks for the totality and if not what percentage of the public in this country, licence fee payers or not.

Yours faithfully,

Peter Martin

J. Jones left an annotation ()

Well from what I've heard of L.K. - she certainly does not speak peace unto nation, & she certainly does not speak for me - a British Citizen......

FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

Dear Mr Martin,

Thank you for your request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Your request was received on 28 January 2017. We will deal with your request as promptly as possible, and at the latest within 20 working days.

If you have any queries about your request, please contact us at the above address.

The reference number for your request is RFI20170213.

Yours sincerely

Information Rights, BBC Legal
BC2A4, Broadcast Centre
201 Wood Lane, London W12 7TP

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FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

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Dear Mr Martin,


Please find attached the response to your request for information,
reference RFI20170213



Yours sincerely,

Information Rights


Information Rights, BBC Legal

BC2A4, Broadcast Centre

201 Wood Lane

London W12 7TP, UK


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