Saturday, 5 November 2011

Case #3: The BBC Fails To Answer My Complaint

I have just receive this e-mail from Stuart Webb at the BBC complaints office.

Dear Mr Dixon

Reference CAS-1069784-FX2C91

Thanks for contacting us regarding BBC Two’s ‘The Future State Of Welfare With John Humphrys’ on 27 October.

I understand you felt the programme was biased against the welfare state. I also note that you wished a transcript of the programme:

I'm sorry but it is not possible to provide a transcript as there’s no longer a central unit dealing with programme transcripts. Some programmes do provide them; if this is the case they will often mention the details at the end of the transmission and they will usually be found on the programme's website. Transcripts are not made automatically as part of the programme making process. Transcribing is very expensive and the licence fee cannot sustain it as an automatic service. As I am sure you will appreciate, the enormous range of programmes broadcast daily across the BBC's television and radio networks means providing transcripts for all of our output would be impossible.

We believe that 'The Future State of Welfare' was a balanced look at the benefits debate in the UK. The programme dealt with a difficult and important subject - and the strong opinions held about the issues raised by the current proposals for reform. The impact of current policy and proposed reforms was shown through John's interviews with individuals who have experience of the system both here in the UK and in the USA. The programme featured interviews with various individuals who claim different types of benefits, and gave them an opportunity to set out their views on the proposed reforms. John conducted these interviews with sympathy and sensitivity and enabling those affected to show how they felt the proposed reforms would impact upon their individual situations.

Both the BBC and John Humphrys consider the programme to be a success - it challenged preconceptions while remaining a balanced and accurate analysis of both emerging policy and public opinion in this highly contentious area.

We’ve registered your comments on our audience log for the benefit of programme makers, commissioning executives, and senior management within the BBC. The audience logs are important documents that can help shape future decisions and they ensure that your points, and all other comments we receive, are made available to BBC staff across the Corporation.

Thanks again for contacting us.

Kind Regards

Stuart Webb
BBC Complaints
It goes on to say that the sender is an outgoing e-mail account only and will not accept replies. No details are provided in case a person is unsatisfied with the BBC response, which I certainly am. Apart from the transcript, it does not discuss my concerns at all. I do not care about Mr Humphrys opinions, nor the opinions of anyone in the programme. I care only about the factual integrity and the rigour behind what little research went into it. The BBC rather than showing concern about alleged factual short-comings simply states that they are happy with this. This is shameful. My original complaint can be found here


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  3. Integrity and the BBC are opposites as they are never wrong unless you can afford more legal fees than them. Basically the BBC has outlived its life as an impartial entity and needs to be privatised as it has its own political agenda which we are forced to contribute.

    Apparently most women in jail (sorry no link to verify this) are for non payment of the tax to this to big for its boots corporation.

    BBC spoils impartiality for EU grants

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  5. I've written and submitted a second, more detailed complaint to the BBC. I'll post it on The Files tomorrow.

  6. Occurs to me that BBCs transcript argument is nonsense.

    Panorama is always subtitled, and as someone who has worked with several palantypists in the past, the entire text for each programme they are typing subtitles to would be kept on the same screen, so they could easily have saved that as a file or printed it out if they wanted to.

    Even if it is done by one of those automated systems now (that makes loads of mistakes!) surely that would be kept somewhere too?

    Perhaps it might be worth finding out who provides subtitles for Panorama (I know that Red Bee Media provides a lot of subtitles at the moment) as they may well still have a record of this.

    No idea if this will help, but just wanted to mention it as if a broadcaster is subtitling something, they are essentially providing a transcript too, so the BBCs reply to you is utter nonsense.