Dear British Broadcasting Corporation,

How many complaints were received concerning the broadcast on Radio 4, in the afternoon, and, in at least one week, during school holidays, of 'The Corrupted', by GF Newman, a drama thick with scenes of a violent and/or sexual nature?

Yours faithfully,

Joe Kilker

FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

Dear Mr Kilker,

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 4th February 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 RFI20140212.

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

Dear Mr Kilker,

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 4th February 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 RFI20140212.

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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Dear FOI Enquiries,

If my question was received on the 4th of February, then the response is now two days late.

Yours sincerely,

Joe Kilker

Dear FOI Enquiries,

To clarify, the BBC are late by their own standards in promising to respond within 20 days, not by the FoI Enquiries standard of a month or so.

Of course, it shouldn't have taken 20 days. It shouldn't have taken two. Their 'Feedback' programme, made by Whistledown Productions, should have that information on tap, but refuse to answer the question put to them on Twitter.

Yours sincerely,

Joe Kilker

FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Kilker,

 

Please find attached the response to your request for information,
reference RFI20140212.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

The Information Policy and Compliance Team

 

BBC Information Policy and Compliance

Room BC2 B6 Broadcast Centre

Wood Lane

London W12 7TP

 

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

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

Tel: 020 8008 2882

Fax: 020 8008 2398

[3]Description: Description: \\BBCFS2025\UserData$\myrien01\Documents\My
Pictures\BBC.png

 

 

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References

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

Dear FOI Enquiries,

This is the BBC's answer:

British Broadcasting Corporation Room BC2 B6 Broadcast Centre White City Wood Lane London W12 7TP
Telephone 020 8008 2882 Email [BBC request email]

Information Policy & Compliance
bbc.co.uk/foi
bbc.co.uk/privacy

Joe Kilker
Sent by email to: [FOI #195935 email]

4th March 2014

Dear Mr Kilker,

Freedom of Information request – [RFI20140212]

Thank you for your request to the BBC of under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 seeking
the following information:

‘How many complaints were received concerning the broadcast on Radio 4, in the afternoon, and, in at
least one week, during school holidays, of 'The Corrupted', by GF Newman, a drama thick with scenes of a
violent and/or sexual nature?’
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 activities1, including information relating
to the subject of editorial complaints. The BBC’s independence and impartiality would be at risk
through disclosure of information on editorial complaints, which is discussed in detail below.

The BBC has chosen not to volunteer information relating to the subject of editorial complaints
for several very good reasons, chief amongst them being a desire to maintain our independence
and impartiality. In this particular case, the BBC is concerned to preserve the integrity of the
independent review process for editorial complaints.

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
BBC.

You may not be aware that one of the main policy drivers behind 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.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has recognised the importance of Schedule 1 of the Act in
protecting the independence of the media, stating that:

“It is the Commissioner’s view that the ultimate purpose of the derogation (Schedule 1) is to
protect journalistic, artistic and literary integrity by carving out a creative and journalistic space for
programme makers to produce programmes free from the interference and scrutiny of the public.”

The BBC agrees that we have the right to protect our journalistic and editorial independence by
maintaining just such a private space in which to produce our content. This extends to the sifting
and review of praise and criticism from audiences, as well as the seeking of an independent view of
criticism in order to undertake this review process. This is an important part of the BBC’s
process of creating and improving programmes. Despite the BBC’s obligation to be independent
and impartial, many bodies, groups and individuals attempt to influence our output. This pressure
takes many forms and has to be resisted by programme makers across the BBC.

If the content of individual criticisms were available for public scrutiny on a regular basis then
programme makers would be under even greater pressure to respond to lobbies or vocal
individuals than they are already. They might be reluctant to make changes that reflect the views
in the complaints in that they could be accused of “caving in to pressure” and other viewers would
make judgements about the apparent impartiality of the programme. Conversely, if their
judgement was to ignore the complaints, as they believed them to be invalid or outweighed by
other factors, they will be accused of ignoring public opinion, without the opportunity to explain
the reasons for their editorial judgement. The BBC also believes that publication could lead to a
tit-for-tat escalation of complaints, particularly from lobbying groups or political parties, as
opponents competed with each other in terms of volume and strength of a complaint to the BBC.

I hope that this provides you with some understanding of why this is an important concern for the
BBC.

In addition, I can advise, outside the scope of the Act that the BBC proactively publishes public
responses to recent issues of audience concern which have caused a significant number of
complaints, or to any significant issue raised by complaints received. The BBC also publishes
quarterly archived reports covering the main themes in all complaints received. In addition,
information about second-stage complaints, i.e. those considered by the Editorial Complaints Unit,
is published at the following site: http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/reports..... Information

about the third stage of the complaints process, i.e. those considered by the ESC, is published at
the following site: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/appeals/ed...

Finally, 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.

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 telephone 01625 545 700. www.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.

Yours sincerely,

Information Policy and Compliance

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

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 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 Parliament.

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 service remit.

----------------------------

What the waffle above declares is that the BBC's self-proclaimed right NOT to be challenged by the public who pay for its services trumps its accountability TO that public. An attitude that has worked so well for everybody this past couple of years. For example, when it decided to broadcast, nationally, a conversation between Australian pranksters and one such member of the public, Jacintha Saldanha, without her permission. Or when it decided to screen an edition of Panorama against the wishes of the London School of Economics, having put students at risk in North Korea, which the BBC very belatedly acknowledges.

The risible excuse put forward for the station's commissioning editor for drama, Jeremy Howe, that listeners were warned of the content of 'The Corrupted' at the beginning would not wash if they'd tried to screen an 18 certificate film in the middle of the day, so why should Radio 4's audience accept such miserable cant?

The corporation can try to twist away from any sense of responsibility, for anything it does (its executives have been getting a lot of practise in that), but I shall expect it to *somehow* manage in future to find programming less controversial for before the watershed during *any* school holidays (this article suggests that such content is not really in their nature, anyway: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/articl...), and if a more suitable slot can't be found for new episodes of the programme, that this 'experiment' will be ended.

An assurance to that effect will make up for the failure of 'Feedback' to do its supposed job, again.

Yours sincerely,

Joe Kilker

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 'How many complaints about 'The Corrupted'?'.

Radio 4's 'Feedback' programme has already stated that complaints were received. There is good reason to believe that these complaints were numerous. It is fantastical, therefore, to try to wriggle out of giving a firm figure, just to save the blushes of programme makers who didn't give a damn about the blushes of their audience.

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

Yours faithfully,

Joe Kilker

FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

Dear Mr Kilker,

 

Thanks you for your further email. I was sorry to read of your
dissatisfaction with our response and for your convenience I have
reiterated your appeal rights below.

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 SK9 5AF. 
Telephone 01625 545 700 or see:  [1]www.ico.org.uk.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

The Information Policy & Compliance Team

 

BBC Freedom of Information

BC2 B6, Broadcast Centre

201 Wood Lane

London W12 7TP

 

[2]www.bbc.co.uk/foi

 

 

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Dear FOI Enquiries,

'The BBC does not offer an internal review when the information requested
is not covered by the Act.'

Well, of course it doesn't, but it remains abominable that the BBC use the excuse above as a catch-all for refusing practically any FoI request, and members of the public who take the least bit of interest are all too aware of this.

It's this naked disdain for our views that will prove to be the BBC's undoing, so that's something to take heart in. No need to feel *too* sorry for me.

Yours sincerely,

Joe Kilker

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