BBC in transparency row over refusal of a third of all FOI requests 

Posted: May 30, 2016 by oldbrew in Accountability, FOI, Incompetence

‘Auntie’ knows best – or likes to pretend it does.

The BBC has been plunged into a transparency row after data revealed it refuses to answer more than a third of the Freedom of Information requests it receives by relying on a specialised excuse, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

The public service broadcaster, which charges households a £145.50 licence fee every year, has been criticised after data showed it failed to fully respond to 3,110 requests out of a possible 9,076 between September 2011 and March this year.

It told those who had their requests refused that it did not have to release the information as it was held for the “purposes of journalism, art or literature” – a clause that only a handful of organisations can use. In December 2011, more than half of all requests were rejected using this clause.

Rejected requests include how many times tripe has appeared on cookery shows and the ongoing costs of maintaining BBC Three, which was moved online in February. Questions about the clothing allowance given to presenters and forecasters, the cost of Radio 1’s Big Weekend and how many Twitter accounts the corporation uses were also refused.

One MP told The Daily Telegraph, which obtained the data through a FOI request, the BBC’s lack of transparency was unacceptable as he called for the corporation to be held accountable.

Andrew Bridgen, Conservative MP for North West Leicestershire, said: “The BBC want all the security of being funded by the taxpayer but all the privileges of being treated like a private sector business.

“There is no other area of public sector spending where there is the lack of transparency that there is at the BBC.

“Because of their funding mechanism, which is effectively a TV poll tax backed up by criminality, the BBC has huge power without being held accountable. I’m hoping the new charter renewal will offer the licence fee paying public more accountability.”

Full report: BBC in transparency row over refusal to answer more than a third of FOI requests by using specialised excuse | Daily Telegraph

  1. oldbrew says:

    ‘Rejected requests include how many times tripe has appeared on cookery shows’

    How many times has tripe appeared on the BBC? Don’t mention the climate.

  2. michael hart says:

    You beat me to it, Oldbrew. Too easy, I guess.

    [reply] well, yes 🙂

  3. E.M.Smith says:

    Accepting a tax on TV is borderline crazy… Can one not ditch the TV and just buy videos or use youtube? Would I be held criminal for watching DirectTV on my tablet while visiting? Or Irish TV news over the internet? (it is free, as are a few thousand other channels. .. I’ve watched Brazillian news and talk tv just because I could…)

    To me, the whole idea seems crazy…

  4. oldbrew says:

    Roughly speaking, you’re not supposed to receive a BBC TV signal, or possess a means of doing so (e.g. a UK-market TV), unless you have a licence. If you have a UK address and no licence you’re automatically suspected of ‘cheating’.

    The I-player is a bit unregulated to date but that could in theory at least be tightened up further.

  5. The story may be worth repeating.

    “Tony Newbery, 69, from North Wales” – using the Freedom of Information Act – spent a long time fighting the BBC for information about key internal 2006 conference about “Climate change”

    In 2014, he finally won. And of course it turned out the conference was a bunch of warmists deciding behind the scenes to advance their careers by slanting BBC stories

  6. Gerry, England says:

    You are not allowed to watch broadcast tv without a licence whether it is the BBC or not and if you are using a tv or computer. Watching the catch-up or on demand services does not require a licence. With wonderful irony after endlessly plugging its iPlayer, the BBC cries foul and wants to restrict access but that would only be to the iPlayer and not anyone else’s service. My guess is that you will have to enter your licence number to watch iPlayer.

    Equally ironic, the BBC spent about £200000 fighting the 28Gate FOI request when it turned out that the attendees list was on another website all the time as they boasted of having attended.