Wednesday, 15 May 2013

The BBC - increasingly unaccountable

Around the time of Margaret Thatcher's funeral I made two fairly innocuous Freedom of Information Act requests to the BBC.

The first request asked

1) The total number of times the BBC has broadcast the song "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead" either as part of the Wizard of Oz film or as a stand-alone item.
2) The total number of times the BBC has broadcast the 1939 version of the Wizard of Oz

The second asked

The full cost to the BBC for the production and broadcast of Baroness Thatcher's funeral.

Both these fairly innocent requests were refused as, according to the BBC

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 activities. 

The BBC also refused my right to internal review stating

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

I think it is quite clear that the BBC now view themselves as no longer having any accountability to the general public despite securing their funding being secured via a form of enforceable taxation.

But given that they allowed sexual predators like Jimmy Savile a free hand for decades is it any wonder that the BBC is nervous about the public scrutinising their affairs?

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