News, Culture & Society

BBC to give fortnightly show complaint updates

The BBC has finally bowed to pressure to disclose details about its complaints.

The Corporation will start publishing a fortnightly update of the number of objections it receives to each programme, for every show that gets 100 complaints or more.

It will also give details of any investigations it undertakes following objections from the public, including whether or not the complaints have been upheld.

The move follows a demand by Ofcom, the broadcasting watchdog, that the BBC must become more transparent.

In a move to be more transparent the BBC will post fortnightly updates of every complaint it has received for each of its shows

The Corporation was more secretive than other broadcasters when it came to complaints, but is now being dragged onto an equal footing.

The first of its new bulletins is expected this week – and promises to shed fresh light on audience dissatisfaction over issues such as left-wing bias, offensive content and inaccuracy.

The move is a dramatic shift for the Corporation, which has spent years doing its best to keep complaints details under wraps.

It publishes a single figure every month, stating the total number of complaints it has received, but refuses to give a breakdown for each programme or the investigations it carries out as a result.

Ofcom told the broadcaster earlier this year that it had to become more transparent, to put it on a par with other broadcasters.

The BBC’s rivals already disclose complaints numbers and have detailed information about objections to their programmes published every two weeks.

Ofcom director and former BBC News boss Kevin Bakhurst says transparency is essential to maintain public confidence

Ofcom director and former BBC News boss Kevin Bakhurst says transparency is essential to maintain public confidence

That meant that the public knew exactly how many people take issue with, for example, Amanda Holden’s plunging dresses on ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent, but the BBC was able to stifle much more important rows.

The BBC wanted to restrict the information it publishes to avoid a ‘running commentary’ from the press or from lobby groups about controversial issues.

It also argued that the fortnightly bulletins would be too much work.

However, Ofcom director and former BBC News boss Kevin Bakhurst told the broadcaster that transparency was essential ‘to build and maintain public confidence in the operation of the BBC…and to provide public accountability’.

The BBC revealed earlier this year that it is inundated by around 685 complaints a day.

At that rate, it gets nearly 17 times the number of complaints that the broadcasting watchdog receives about all the other UK TV and radio broadcasters combined.

Ofcom received 14,959 complaints in the year to October – amounting to just 41 a day.



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