Laura Kuenssberg - Trump/May press conference

The request was refused by British Broadcasting Corporation.

Dear British Broadcasting Corporation,

1. How many complaints have been received to date about Laura Kuenssberg's question/s to President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Theresa May ?

2. What were the complaints?

Prime documents ( see notes below) if possible within the time constraint , BBC form of categorisation if not.

3 What was the cost of sending Laura Kuenssberg to the USA?

4. What was the cost of sending the BBC crew who attended the press conference to USA?

3/4 nb Total cost - including expenses

:::

Request Title/summary within scope.
I am writing to make an open government request for all the
information to which I am entitled under the Freedom of Information
Act 2000.

Please send me recorded information, which includes information
held on computers, in emails and in printed or handwritten
documents as well as images, video and audio recordings.

If this request is too wide or unclear, and you require a
clarification, I would be grateful if you could contact me as I
understand that under the Act, you are required to advise and
assist requesters.(Section 16 / Regulation 9).

If my request is denied in whole or in part, I ask that you justify
all deletions by reference to specific exemptions of the act. I
will also expect you to release all non-exempt material. I reserve
the right to appeal your decision to withhold any information or to
charge excessive fees.

If any of this information is already in the public domain, please
can you direct me to it, with page references and URLs if
necessary.

Please confirm or deny whether the requested information is held ( section (Section 1(1)(a) and consider whether information should be provided under section 1(1)(b), or whether it is subject to an exemption in Part II of the Act.

If the release of any of this information is prohibited on the
grounds of breach of confidence, I ask that you supply me with
copies of the confidentiality agreement and remind you that
information should not be treated as confidential if such an
agreement has not been signed.

I request that the response be provided to me as
electronic copies, via WDTK.

The information should be immediately readable - and, as a freedom of Information request, not put in a PDF or any closed form, which some readers may not be able to access. It should be immediately readable.

I understand that you are required to respond to my request within
the 20 working days after you receive this letter. I would be
grateful if you could confirm in writing that you have received
this request.

::::::::

Please consider the ICO's Decision on the provision original documents on file, rather than newly written letters of response.
https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...

This request does not require a letter, drafted by the External Affairs department, or any other written input by reputational defence employees - and purporting to be the response to a FOIA request.

Yours faithfully,

Jt Oakley

FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

Dear Jt Oakley

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 31st 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 address below.

The reference number for your request is RFI20170223

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

show quoted sections

FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

1 Attachment

Dear JT Oakley,

 

Please find attached the response to your request for information,
reference RFI20170223.

 

 

Yours sincerely,

The Information Policy and Compliance Team

 

Workplace & Information Rights, BBC Legal

BC2A4, 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

 

 

 

References

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

Dear FOI Enquiries,

Thank you. You state:.

The limited application of the Act to public service broadcasters is to protect freedom of expression and the rights of the media, guaranteed 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.

::

Since the BBC has now been barred from USA presidential conferences, my contention is that the request comes within a public interest determination.

The request does not require knowledge the internal administration of any creative journalistic activities, just the number of complaints about this particular public event, already televised to millions of people. And associated costs.

That's a clear separation of creative processes, which are rightly guarded - and the external input from the public that the BBC has received as a response to the event.

- Unless the argument is that the BBC regards public complaints as part of the BBC 'creative journalistic process' and it also has 'editorial rights' over public complaints, who might well assume that their correspondence is not to be editorialised- without permission - or creatively corrected by the BBC, since copyright remains with the sender.

Please therefore confirm that your response is for me to forward the request as a complaint to the ICO, as your public complaints system is part of the BBC's 'journalistic creative editorial process' as a clarification.

Andy Smith (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Vexatious request.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

To be vexatious it has to be frivolous and without merit.

:::

BBC - Mission and values - Inside the BBC
www.bbc.co.uk › insidethebbc › whoweare
Our mission, vision, and values inform the work of the BBC and are how we promote our public purposes. ... Our mission. To enrich people's lives with programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain.

:::

The BBC is under considerable criticism. It is therefore in the public interest to ask if it divides its journalistic and creative activities, from its 'housekeeping' i.e. It's monitoring of public criticism and its financial departments.

How else would it determine its 'enrichment' of licence payers lives' -by examining its ' informing, educating and entertaining' remit is in line with its operations?

Otherwise the argument is that it's journalistic and creative departments are always right - cannot be criticised and that external public opinion and feedback is irrelevant.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

For the avoidance of doubt -

The press conference was called in order to inform the public on the talks between Trump and May about the UK/ USA 'special relationship', which will affect the UK in the coming years as the UK withdraws from the EU.

It is therefore an important topic and the public would be justifiably interested in the outcome of the meeting which had taken place before the press conference.

This is the question posed by Ms Kuenssberg on the May/Trump meeting,which elicited a puzzled response:

Invited to pose a question to both leaders, Ms Kuenssberg raised a number of issues that have caused consternation in the UK, saying: "Mr President, you've said before that torture works, you've praised Russia, you've said you want to ban some Muslims from coming to America, you've suggested there should be punishment for abortion.

"For many people in Britain those sound like alarming beliefs. What do you say to our viewers at home who are worried about some of your views and worried about you becoming the leader of the free world?"

Mr Trump pointed to Ms Kuenssberg and turned to Mrs May, saying: "This was your choice of a question?"

IMO :

To provide a proper response to these four questions would have taken more time allowed for the entire press conference, as Ms Kuenssberg would know.

This would mean that no other media representative, who had attended from many countries, could ask their question.

In addition, BBC viewers logically would of preferred a question on the recent May/ Trump meeting and its outcome.

So, informing-no, educating-no ....although, with a stretch, it could be construed as 'entertaining' for a section of the community uninterested in the new relationship between the UK and the USA.

Common Law Jurisdiction left an annotation ()

Give the BBC their dues. They can report a tower collapsing 26 minutes before it happens.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Thank you common Law Juristriction.

Researching this information I came across lots of discussion about this very topic on social media. So there is pubkuc dissenting.

The BBC seems to be arguing that complaints figures and expenses are held for the purposes of journalism, art or literature. ...-

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. Part VI of Schedule 1 to the Act 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”.

--

Since the BBC publishes viewing audience figures, which could be construed to be on a positive premise, given the press releases on high viewing figures.Rather than a negative one ( such as complaints)

So I can't understand why the BBC is seemingly stating that customer viewing figures do not come under this Act - while complaints stats do. I also fail to see why either set of stats is covered by the description of 'journalism'.

Because they do not add, or detract, to the way journalists do their jobs.

.....Unless poor viewing figures mean that journalists are unable to maintain independence of thought.

In that case, the BBC should be arguing that they should remain secret too.

Common Law Jurisdiction left an annotation ()

It is hypocrisy. Basically they will twist the so called rules to their own advantage which is what we are seeing on a grand scale from the establishment.

They look down on what they see as dole scrounging oils, yet are happy to have some peers claiming £300 per day expenses. I don't get that for going to work and nor would I expect it. It is grotesquely greedy.

Back on to the subject of the BBC, I have a complaint in with the ICO as they have classed Bart Joseph as a pseudonym without any evidence and in clear violation of the spirit and guidance of the act. They won't even answer my requests.

We will see how the ICO respond. In an honest review they would be told to answer the requests as they are clearly in breach.

Common Law Jurisdiction left an annotation ()

The BBC's journalism makes me sick. Pandering and misrepresentation abound. Selective editing too which amounts to slander or whatever you want to call it in my book as they change what a person has said by chopping out key parts of the conversation to make a person's response look bad.

Was brilliant the other day when that Whitehouse spokesman told them on Newsnight they had just committed fake news.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

I don't care to bring bias into a request.

I wanted to know the cost was of sending a BBC team to the USA, having being granted a place to ask about the relevant newsworthy meeting ...( out of hundreds of international news services)
And then not asking about it.

The tone of the new political relationship between the two countries being much more important to the British viewer than 'torture, Russians, Muslims and abortion' at that point. ( All questions that had been comprehensively discussed during the preceeding election).

What I want to know is how many complaints the BBC received about this strange question - irrelevant to the outcome of the Trump/May meeting. And which could not be answered in the time allotted to each questioner at the press conference.

::

The BBC is publically funded, therefore the number of complaints on contentious issues should be monitored by an impartial department which does NOT have a vested interested in the BBC's journalistic output.

The BBC is arguing that there is no such impartiality - because it's monitoring of public feedback must be secret in order to protect secrecy journalistic activities, as it's complaint procedure is part of its journalistic remit.
And therefore covered by the law. Hardly an independent monitoring function.

:::

When it boils down to it -How does stating that the BBC received - say 100 - complaints about this one episode, curtail the BBCs independence of its journalistic activities?

Common Law Jurisdiction left an annotation ()

You are correct Jt Oakley, but we both know how it is. They would rather waste more time and expense trying to find some trumped up (no pun intended) reason not to answer than to give you an answer that could probably be delivered in a fraction of the time and at less cost. I had one council tell me something similar along the independence line. I knew they were lying, but apparently an independent officer at the council would review the request. How can he/she be independent truly?

Answers have to be dragged out of the BBC. Look at the Savile scandal for example.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

I attended TOTP on and off in my 14-17 teenage years and I really don't know how Savile escaped notice.
It was obvious. So you may be right.

However, my point isn't BBC bias, it's about the BBC confusing its journalistic function with its public complaint monitoring.

The paying public have a right to know if their complaints are properly and independently considered - and to do this counting them would be necessary.

I can't think why the BBC is so coy about this publically driven function.

Unless it isn't being properly done.

Andy Smith (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Fake News. Fake News. Fake News. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Thank you,

I understand the why of your decision.

And I also understand the BBC's Reithian remit.

However, this means that say.. the expenditure of BBC chauffeur cars.....since they are used to ferry senior executives around and the definition provided is also covered by the journalistic scope.

Which is clearly unsound.

The BBC, as a public body, ought to be responsible to the public for its expenditure.

The argument:

You state :

'This means that information held for the purposes of journalism, art or literature is not covered by the FOIA but is derogated.

Expenditure is not held for the 'purpose' of journalism.

Purpose is intention:

Definition - the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.
"the purpose of the meeting is to appoint a trustee"
synonyms: motive, motivation, grounds, cause, impetus, occasion, reason, point, basis, justification

Therefore expenditure is held AFTER the Journalism event ......and not before it. And therefore it is not it's purpose -but resultive action. Likewise complaints.

The alternative argument would be that the expenditure drives the PRODUCT of journalism . Which can't support the BBC's Reithian diktat. As the BBC's journalistic content has to be independent.

As to complaints, again, the information cannot be held for the purpose of journalism.

Complaints are not the intent of journalistic activity.

Therefore they lie independently outside the BBC's journalistic remit.

On that comprehensive approach the purposes of journalism, art or literature would be, quite simply, the purposes of the BBC’s entire output to the public.”

The statement, once again, the number of complaints/ expenditure does not form any part of the BBC's ' entire output to the public' .

Logically, as 'output', ( Output , rather than Input) , the data would be publically accessible.

Complaints are input with their data only held internally.

Therefore the logic for the rejection of my complaint falls outside this decision.

This part is correct -but my request does not fall within these journalistic boundaries.
Since the input of complaints is not a journalistic activity, due to them being made by the public.

Complainers are not journalists.

The first is the collecting or gathering, writing and verifying of materials for publication.
The second is editorial. This involves the exercise of judgement on issues such as:
* the selection, prioritisation and timing of matters for broadcast
or publication;
* the analysis of, and review of individual programmes; and
* the provision of context and background to such programmes.
The third element is the maintenance and enhancement of the standards and quality of journalism (particularly with respect to accuracy, balance and completeness). This may involve the training and development of individual journalists, the mentoring of less experienced journalists by more experienced colleagues, professional supervision and guidance, and reviews of the standards and quality of particular areas of programme making.”

Taking into account these arguments, I would like a Decision.

JtOakley

On 10 Jun 2017, at 08:35, casework@ico.org.uk wrote:

10th June 2017

Case Reference Number FS50682850

Dear JtOakley

Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA)
Your FOIA request to the BBC dated 31 January 2017

I am writing from the Information Commissioner’s Office to explain the Commissioner’s preliminary conclusion with respect to your complaint. The Commissioner is satisfied that the BBC has correctly handled your request for information under the FOIA.

Summary of the correspondence

On 31 January 2017 you sent the following information request to the BBC:

1. How many complaints have been received to date about Laura Kuenssberg's question/s to President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Theresa May?

2. What were the complaints?

Prime documents (see notes below) if possible within the time constraint, BBC form of categorisation if not.

3. What was the cost of sending Laura Kuenssberg to the USA?

4. What was the cost of sending the BBC crew who attended the press conference to USA?

3/4 nb Total cost - including expenses

On 23 February 2017 the BBC responded to your request. The BBC explained that it did not believe that the information was caught by FOIA because it was held for the purposes of ‘art, journalism or literature’.

Some key principles about the operation of FOIA

Although the BBC is listed as a public authority in the FOIA it applies to the BBC only to a limited extent.

The BBC is a public authority for the purposes of the FOIA – “in respect of information held for purposes other than those of journalism, art or literature.”

This is known as the Schedule 1 derogation.

This means that information held for the purposes of journalism, art or literature is not covered by the FOIA but is derogated.

The Commissioner can only consider concerns within the scope of the FOIA. The Commissioner is unable to compel the public authority to provide information outside its obligations under FOIA. The operation of the derogation is explained in more detail below.

How the derogation works

Since the FOIA came into force, the issue on derogation has created considerable litigation about what this means. The High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court have explained their views about when the derogation will apply and their decisions are binding on the Commissioner. In summary, if the information is held and relates to ‘output’ then it falls outside FOIA.

In 2012, the Supreme Court in Sugar (Deceased) v British Broadcasting Corporation and another [2012] UKSC 4 gave a clear definition of what the phrase ‘journalism, art or literature’ means in FOIA and what types of information it will cover; the Supreme Court found that, “…the composite expression ‘journalism, art or literature’ seems to be intended to cover the whole of the BBC’s output in its mission (under article 5 of its Royal Charter) to inform, educate and entertain the public. On that comprehensive approach the purposes of journalism, art or literature would be, quite simply, the purposes of the BBC’s entire output to the public.” (Lord Walker at para 70).

In relation to journalism the Supreme Court accepted the Information Tribunal’s definition of journalism as comprising three elements:

The first is the collecting or gathering, writing and verifying of materials for publication.
The second is editorial. This involves the exercise of judgement on issues such as:
* the selection, prioritisation and timing of matters for broadcast
or publication;
* the analysis of, and review of individual programmes; and
* the provision of context and background to such programmes.
The third element is the maintenance and enhancement of the standards and quality of journalism (particularly with respect to accuracy, balance and completeness). This may involve the training and development of individual journalists, the mentoring of less experienced journalists by more experienced colleagues, professional supervision and guidance, and reviews of the standards and quality of particular areas of programme making.”

Also the Supreme Court found (in a 4:1 majority) that if the information is held by the BBC to any significant degree for the relevant purposes (i.e. journalism, art, literature) it is exempt from production under FOIA, even if the information is also held for other purposes[1].

Therefore provided there is a relationship between the information and one of the purposes listed in Part VI of Schedule 1 – which are to be read to mean ‘output’ – then the information is derogated.

The information relevant to the request need not be journalistic, artistic or literary material itself. All that must be evidenced is that the information requested has a relationship with the BBC’s output.

Is there a relationship between the information requested and ‘output’?

The information you have requested, about complaints and/or costs relating to Laura Kuenssberg's question/s to President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Theresa May is directly linked to the BBC’s output. As a result I am satisfied that in this case the Commissioner has no jurisdiction in this matter and therefore no statutory power to order disclosure.

You may wish to read some decision notices regarding the application of the derogation at the link below by selecting the BBC under the ‘Authority’ tab:

http://search.ico.org.uk/ico/search/deci...

The Commissioner’s preliminary conclusion in this case

As a preliminary conclusion, the Commissioner is satisfied that the requested information is derogated and therefore the BBC is not obliged to comply with Parts I to V of the FOIA with respect to this request.

Progression of this case and actions required

Please consider the following options:

It may be case that you are prepared to withdraw this complaint at this point given the information above. This does not mean that you are satisfied with the situation, but that you understand that any decision notice you will receive will be highly likely to uphold the position of the BBC and find against you. Should you agree to withdraw your complaint without a decision notice you would not then be able to appeal this case to the First-tier Tribunal (Information Rights).
The alternative is that you want to proceed to a decision notice and as explained above it is highly likely to uphold the position of the BBC and find against you. Both parties will however have a right of appeal at the First-tier Tribunal (Information Rights) where there are grounds to do so. If you require a decision notice I would ask you to provide your arguments about why you disagree with the preliminary view that is outlined above and encourage you to read through the material that I have referenced.
This case will now be closed and if I do not hear from you within the next 10 working days, that is by 26 June 2017, I will proceed on the basis that you are prepared to withdraw this case.

Thank you for your co-operation in this matter.

Yours sincerely

Jt Oakley left an annotation ()

Any BBC complainers should note that their complaints are held on file for the PURPOSE of 'journalism etc' only.

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