BBC to pub­lish com­plaints ev­ery fort­night

The Guardian - - NATIONAL - Gra­ham Rud­dick

The BBC is to pub­lish de­tailed in­for­ma­tion about the com­plaints it re­ceives from view­ers af­ter Of­com, the me­dia reg­u­la­tor, de­manded that the cor­po­ra­tion be­came more trans­par­ent.

Un­der new rules the BBC will have to re­veal the num­ber of com­plaints it re­ceives ev­ery fort­night, iden­tify the shows that re­ceived more than 100 com­plaints, and ex­plain the edi­to­rial is­sues raised by the com­plaints and whether they were up­held.

The move will of­fer an un­prece­dented in­sight into how au­di­ences re­act to BBC pro­grammes. But it has prompted an an­gry re­sponse from the BBC, which ini­tially fought against pub­lish­ing the fig­ures amid con­cerns that it would be ex­pen­sive and time con­sum­ing.

The BBC is ex­pected to pub­lish the first wave of in­for­ma­tion about com­plaints un­der the new sys­tem within the next few days.

BBC pro­grammes that have at­tracted crit­i­cism in re­cent weeks in­clude Gun­pow­der, a drama star­ring Game of Thrones star Kit Har­ing­ton which was at­tacked on so­cial me­dia for be­ing too vi­o­lent. ITV and Chan­nel 4 al­ready dis­close in­for­ma­tion about com­plaints ev­ery two weeks,how­ever Of­com only be­gan reg­u­lat­ing the BBC this year.

At present the BBC just pub­lishes the to­tal num­ber of com­plaints it has re­ceived ev­ery month, with­out iden­ti­fy­ing pro­grammes.

Of­com had given the cor­po­ra­tion un­til the end of this week to re­spond to its de­mand about pub­lish­ing fort­nightly data. The BBC con­firmed that it had agreed and would re­spond to Of­com. In Septem­ber a se­nior di­rec­tor at Of­com wrote to the BBC af­ter the cor­po­ra­tion ex­pressed its op­po­si­tion to the plans.

Kevin Bakhurst, a di­rec­tor at Of­com and pre­vi­ously a BBC News ex­ec­u­tive, wrote a strongly-worded let­ter to David Jor­dan, di­rec­tor of edi­to­rial pol­icy and stan­dards at the BBC.

He said: “We con­tinue to con­sider that the greater trans­parency we pro­posed is nec­es­sary to build and main­tain pub­lic con­fi­dence in the op­er­a­tion of the BBC un­der the new frame­work and to pro­vide pub­lic ac­count­abil­ity. In our view, fort­nightly pub­li­ca­tion is ap­pro­pri­ate given the pe­riod within which com­plaints are made and most com­plaints are re­solved by the BBC.”

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