Dear British Broadcasting Corporation,

Introduction:
As most intelligent people have realised Newswatch is an ineffectual, theatre for complaints where license fee payers are patronised to death by 'senior BBC officials' but nothing ever changes. This request is to uncover whether there is, in fact, any effect on the BBC from complaints made to this piece of 'complaints theatre' or 'engagement' as it's cynically called nowadays.

Question:
How many complaints and observations to Newswatch have resulted in any substantive changes within the BBC News organisation over the past five years?

I am not asking [at this point] for details, though, given the propensity of the BBC to spin, evade, hide, cover-up etc. I may ask the trust to corroborate details. Since I'm not asking for details, I'll complain to the information commissioner about the use of 'journalism, art and literature' to evade this question as the BBC has apparently evaded tens of others.

Yours faithfully,

Hugh Barnard

Peter Jones left an annotation ()

The answer, I'm guessing, is none.
Newswatch, just like Points of View, is the BBC's patronising pretence to be receptive to feedback, when it actually doesn't give a stuff. I mean why should they? Regardless of what they do they get given £3.6 billion on a plate every year.
The BBC will not respond to this request as it falls under the derogation (a rule that allows them to hide things).

Hugh Barnard left an annotation ()

For Peter, Yes, I'm sure that they will try that. Meanwhile, part of this request is simply to expose for many others that the BBC is broken, opaque, wasteful and arrogant [Broken Broadcasting Corporation?] and betrays every part of its mission: inform, educate and entertain.

I should allow 'entertain' but considering the crass [property porn, antiques porn, talent shows] output in this area, I've left it.

I actually support the idea of public broadcasting but not the rotting hulk that we now live with.

FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

Dear Mr Barnard,

Thank you for your request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, as detailed in your email below. Your request was received on 21st January 2014. 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 address below.

The reference number for your request is RFI20140105.

Kind regards

The Information Policy & Compliance Team

BBC Freedom of Information
BC2 B6, Broadcast Centre
201 Wood Lane
London W12 7TP

www.bbc.co.uk/foi
Email: [BBC request email]

Tel: 020 8008 2882

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FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Barnard

 

Please find attached the response to your request for information,
reference RFI20140122

 

 

Yours sincerely,

The Information Policy and Complaince Team

 

BBC Information Policy and Compliance

BC2B6, Broadcast Centre

201 Wood Lane

London W12 7TP, UK

 

Website: [1]www.bbc.co.uk/foi

Email: [2]mailto:[BBC request email]

Tel: 020 8008 2882

Fax: 020 8008 2398

 

 

 

 

 

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References

Visible links
1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/foi
2. mailto:[BBC request email]
3. http://www.bbc.co.uk/

Peter Martin left an annotation ()

Noting:

"Since I'm not asking for details, I'll complain to the information commissioner about the use of 'journalism, art and literature' to evade this question as the BBC has apparently evaded tens of others”

This response seems rather tailored to emphasise the limitations to the FoI Act that can be exploited by some public sector organisations, especially our most trusted and transparent national broadcaster:

"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"

However, this does rather highlight a 'heads they win, tails any concerned citizen loses' situation when trying to establish facts that may better inform concerns on performance.

While the introduction and conclusion may be seen to be challenging, the core question is surely still more than valid, given the paucity of means to complain to the BBC, and the near inevitability of how they are filtered and/or 'handled' and/or rejected.

Newswatch is surely included in the stats that are made available, indeed trumpeted, by the BBC Trust to show how few complaints about the BBC the BBC has seen any merit in.

Yet as best I can judge, the only faith anyone can have for such claims is the BBC Trust saying, in effect, 'Trust us'.

Basically, whatever sop to transparency and engagement Newswatch is meant to represent, it is a sham. Because whatever goes in, rattles around, gets aired a bit and then tucked away, it remains a secret if anything has actually happened at all.

"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."

That's quite the mouthful, but the results of a Newswatch story cannot fall under these attempted exclusions. These would surely be the administrative/logistical/system changes embraced internally as a consequence. Possibly 'creative' in the interpretation but hardly journalism, art or literature.

Hence these excuses for refusal don't appear to have any validity even semantically, beyond the games the BBC plays with the FoI Act daily anyway.

Dear British Broadcasting Corporation,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of British Broadcasting Corporation's handling of my FOI request 'Effects of Newswatch'.

This has nothing to do with the exemption for art and literature, since it is a request for statistics ABOUT Newswatch rather than the effect of specific complaints.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/e...

Yours faithfully,

Hugh Barnard

FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Barnard,

Thank you for your email, in relation to your FOI request about relating to the Newswatch, we apologise for the delay in responding to you. (Reference: RFI20140105). The information requested is excluded from the Act because it is held for the purposes of ‘journalism, art or literature.’ The BBC considers that the derogation protects the journalistic, artistic and literary integrity of the BBC by securing a creative and journalistic space for programme makers to produce material for broadcast free from interference by those who would seek to influence our output.

As stated in our response to you, which I attach again for your reference; the BBC does not offer an internal review when the information requested is not covered by the Act, so you are therefore unable to appeal our decision using this process. 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

The BBC's understanding of the scope of the derogation has been informed by numerous cases, including the recent consideration by the Supreme Court, in the case of Sugar (deceased) v British Broadcasting Corporation and another [2012] UKSC 4, of the Schedule 1 'derogation' for the public service broadcasters in relation to journalism. Lord Phillips noted the BBC’s ‘important right to freedom of expression’ and the link between Schedule 1 of the Act and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Additionally, as also recognised by the Supreme Court, it recognises that public service broadcasters caught by the Act (BBC, Channel 4, S4C, MG Alba) should not be placed at a disadvantage to their commercial competitors.

In practical terms, the BBC has interpreted this to mean that we are not required to supply information held for the purposes of creating the BBC's output or information that supports or is closely associated with these activities.

You might find it useful to review the Decision Notices from the Information Commissioner, regarding the application of the derogation to information held by the BBC. These Decision Notices can be found at the following URL: http://www.ico.gov.uk/tools_and_resource... - using the search function, if you select the BBC as the 'Authority' and FOI 1 as the 'Section' you will find a number of relevant Decision Notices.

Kind Regards,

Information Policy and Compliance

BBC Information Policy and Compliance
BC2B6, Broadcast Centre
201 Wood Lane
London W12 7TP, UK

Website: www.bbc.co.uk/foi
Email: mailto:[BBC request email]
Tel: 020 8008 2883
Fax: 020 8008 2398

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Hugh Barnard left an annotation ()

I love the bit about 'integrity', this from a failing, pompous, opaque and out-of-touch organisation, publisher of such gems as 'Crap Cars' and commissioner of such gems as 'Flog It'. An organisation that devotes one channel and who-knows-how-much public money to billiards.

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