Skip to content

How To Complain To The BBC

January 10, 2015
tags:

By Paul Homewood

 

We often have our whinges about the BBC, but what can we actually do about it?

As Joe Public points out, we can complain. This is Joe’s comment in full:-

 

Aunty has a long-winded ‘Complaints Procedure’. Takes about 5 – 10 mins to complete:

https://ssl.bbc.co.uk/complaints/forms/?reset=#anchor

Corporate Policy seems to be boiler-plate rejection, in the hope that ‘kills’ 95%.

[It is not unknown for a complaint about web-page content to be initially ‘rejected’ but the offending web page to be altered/updated, but without the reason for the update to be acknowledged. They’re that sly.]

Persistence (not easy, ‘cos their system is designed for BBC convenience, not ‘customer’ convenience) generates a slightly more detailed explanation of why you’re wrong.

Things then get interesting.

A 3rd attempt gets you escalated to the BBC Editorial Complaints Director.

Should his response be not to your satisfaction, and if he deigns to offer no resistance, you can appeal the The BBC Trust.

Their rejection* of your complaint is extremely detailed.

*The Trust sadly fails to maintain 100% record of clean sheets, and some do actually succeed.

I urge potential complainants not to be put off by the above procedure. It’s only by complaining, that things get changed.

At the moment, Aunty is fighting to retain its existing cushy Telly-Tax funding; but significant numbers are objecting to being forced to pay for its flavours of political & scientific propaganda.

 

I have filed a couple of complaints this year, both still wending their through the labyrinthine procedures at the BBC, and they may well end up unsuccessful. What we do know is that the supposedly impartial process, right up to the BBC Trust level, is no such thing.

Nevertheless, if nothing else, it lets them know we are monitoring them, which is no bad thing. It also puts them to some effort in preparing their defences, and therefore may make them think twice the next time they are tempted to print inaccurate or biased material.

 

As Joe says, it does not take long to file the complaint initially. The two usual grounds would be:

1) Inaccuracy

2) Bias.

 

For the best chance of success, you need to marshal your facts, rather than just launch into a moan. It is vital, however, that you keep a full record of your complaint, as the BBC tend to reject most, if not all, complaints at the first stage.

At this stage, you are allowed to resubmit your complaint in more detail, so you don’t want to have to reinvent the wheel.

If possible, keep screenshots and bookmark the original reports.

I am more than happy to assist anybody who wishes to complain with any factual information.

45 Comments
  1. January 10, 2015 7:48 pm

    “At this stage, you are allowed to resubmit your complaint in more detail, so you don’t want to have to reinvent the wheel.”

    Good point.
    As I recall they don’t send you a copy of your complaint, when they acknowledge it.

    • January 10, 2015 8:19 pm

      Hi QV

      When Aunty sends you it’s initial Acknowledgement, the wording of your complaint is included.

      It also allocates a 13-digit alpha-numeric Case Number CAS-*******-****** which means absolutely nothing to anybody but a BeeBoid.

      All correspondence to you includes that Case Number, but no other subject-identifying wording in the title.

      Only their initial response to you includes your complaint wording.

      • January 10, 2015 9:30 pm

        Thanks.
        It’s a while since I complained as such.
        I must have been thinking about an enquiry or comment.

  2. January 10, 2015 7:59 pm

    Might want to brush up on CH5 complaint procedures after tonight’s “Worst Weather Ever”, on CH5+1 at 20:00.

  3. Ben Vorlich permalink
    January 10, 2015 8:55 pm

    These are typical responses you’ll get after a complaint to the BBC

    “We attach the text of the complaint for your records and will normally include it in our overnight report of all today’s audience reaction.”

    or

    “I’d like to assure you that I’ve registered your concerns on our audience log. This is a daily report of audience feedback that’s made available to many BBC staff, including members of the BBC Executive Board, programme makers, channel controllers and other senior managers.”

    My one small partial victory, in which they refute Climate Change bias which I included in my complaint for good measure.

    ” Thanks for contacting us regarding ‘BBC News at One’ broadcast on the 28 October.

    Please accept our apologies for the delay in replying. We know our correspondents appreciate a quick response and we’re sorry you have had to wait on this occasion.

    We understand you were concerned that the programme said that Saint Jude was the “worst storm for decades”. We note you felt this exaggerated the case and resulted from bias towards climate change.

    The “worst” storm is a subjective term which doesn’t rest on the strength of the storm alone but on a range of factors.

    That said the report did also include the line that:

    “The most powerful storm to hit the UK in decades has swept across southern and central parts of the country…”

    We accept that it’s a fact that we have seen 2 or 3 similar storms of the magnitude of this one in the last 10 years in the UK and so this line was inaccurate and it would have been better for our script to have described it as “one of the worst storms in decades.”

    However, this was simply a mistake and we utterly refute the suggestion that it alleged bias in favour of climate change had any relevance to its inclusion as you suggest.

    We’d like to assure you that we’ve registered your complaint on our audience log. This is an internal report of audience feedback which we compile daily and is available for viewing by all our staff. This includes all programme makers and presenters, along with our senior management. It ensures that your points, along with all other comments we receive, are circulated and considered across the BBC.”

    • January 10, 2015 9:32 pm

      “It ensures that your points, along with all other comments we receive, are circulated and considered across the BBC.”

      And I bet they have a jolly good laugh about them!.

  4. Paul permalink
    January 10, 2015 9:31 pm

    I gave up watching or listening to the BBC years ago, and not just because of its global warming propaganda. I pay no licence fee and watch no broadcast TV ( the opium of the masses). The prospect of being forced to pay a universal BBC tax in a few years time, whether I watch or not, makes me very annoyed.
    There clearly needs to be public demonstrations outside BBC buildings for any message to get through.

  5. January 11, 2015 12:16 am

    Thanks for the information, Paul.
    In addition it might be helpful to have read Franz Kafka’s “The Trial”.
    See http://www.kafka-online.info/the-trial.html

  6. January 13, 2015 9:48 am

    Guys you look like real beginners compared to the eco-activists
    – On 3 or 4 occasions they have succeeded in getting 5 minute segments on Radio 4’s Feedback unopposed and without any acknowledgement that they were activists. They coordinated thru the Transitionstown webforum.

    Surely you should coordinate rather than just 1 signature on a complaint form.
    My suggestions
    1. Get some famous friends
    2. Act immediately to stop the bad-meme spreading and to stop it going out on the repeat
    Telephone the prog ..some local radio, will correct immediately.
    3. Don’t be alone, coordinate
    .. Right as you listen get on Twitter and raise a fuss, cos if you wait the topic goes stale
    Tweet to the prog and also to the most famous logical person you know #bbcDeceives etc.
    – Check Facebook many shows/networks have their own page and you may find backers there. (use the same haahtags)
    . And staff you didn’t get on the phone might pick up your complaint.
    4. Afterwards
    – Check other web places like the Digitalspy forums. You might stir other support and find people mentioning other errors you missed.
    5. Alert the Skeptics : put a message here. And anyone can start a Discussion thread on http://www.bishop-hill.net/discussion/
    6. Then write your complaint email using the tactics other people suggested above…
    Don’t rant, but find angle exposing where the prog makers broke the law/BBCrules (or prejudice like exploiting Africans to forward an Eco political agenda)
    7. Add other signatures .. The tactics I can think is by including in your complaint a link to a web discussion or pointing out you got 50 retweets on Twitter etc.
    8. Follow it up by going back to the progs Facebooks page and writing that you have complained as this may collect some Likes.
    – That way if they do do it again you can bring that same post to the top of the page.

    But the point about complaining is to set a culture of where this type of offence doesn’t get repeated. Planting a seed in the mind of the prog makers that not everyone is in their crazy Eco-religion and that someone might raise an embarrassing fuss.

  7. January 13, 2015 9:57 am

    If it was it was on the radio you should tweet @BBCR4Feedback
    They seem to never never a skeptics complaint ..(I guess they bought into the conspiracy theory that there is a massive army of paid deniers)
    – but your complaint is visible in public and on the prog they might give the eco-activists only 4 minutes unopposed instead of the normal 5 minutes

  8. January 13, 2015 11:51 am

    @TerryS just shared this on Bishop-Hill
    I sent them a FOI request asking for copies of any formal or informal guidance on the use of the term “denier”. I also asked for their definition of a “denier”. This is the response I got:
    The information you have requested is out of scope of the Act. However, we are happy to explain there is no formal guidance on the use of the word “denier” in relation to climate change. I would be surprised if you had heard BBC presenters or correspondents referring to “deniers” except in circumstances when they are quoting remarks by other people. Generally we tend to refer in our output to “sceptics” because the word “denier” can be regarded in some circumstances as pejorative. I have done a search on the word and can only find it used by interviewees or people in the news.”
    Since the BBC recognise that the term is a pejorative you should raise a formal complaint whenever you hear one of their presenters use it.

    • January 13, 2015 2:07 pm

      If they consider it a pejorative term, perhaps they should not allow people being interviewed to use the term or quote people using the term, as they might do with other people using other similar pejorative terms.

  9. Jean marsh permalink
    March 20, 2015 11:11 am

    Can you tell me where to complain about why? we have to have the aggravating noise off background music when people are speaking,

    • March 20, 2015 1:34 pm

      Start here:
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/
      It’s not easy. IMHO the procedures are designed to DISCOURAGE complaints and comments.
      All complaints to the BBC generally fall on deaf ears. They can do no wrong.
      I agree about music, especially in documentaries when it is used as a propaganda tool to manipulate opinion subconsciously.

    • March 20, 2015 2:11 pm

      I would also advise you to keep a copy of whatever you send to the BBC, because you won’t get one from them.

  10. Ray Jenkis permalink
    May 14, 2015 5:23 pm

    Dear Sirs
    Can you please give a very good reason why the ladies reading the News have a Red one on and the following day it’s a Blue one.
    Is it because you are so left wing and blue for right winger’s. With all the beautiful colour dresses you play this game .
    Just be a Little grown up for once.

    You also play the game with mens ties WHY the Hell.

  11. W. Becket permalink
    May 19, 2015 4:38 pm

    You omit one very important detail: that it is, in fact, impossible for a member of the public to hold a dialogue with the BBC. When you ring the complaints number you are speaking not to the BBC but to Capita (and you can have a good deal of fun getting them ty admit that they are Capita and not the BBC). The problem with this is that whereas the BBC, were you able to speak to them, might be able to answer questions put to them, Capita cannot and are limited to passing on (so they claim) your complaint.
    Personally, if I have a complaint about Peugeot, I do not expect Halfords to answer the phone, pretending to be Peugeot.

    To add insult on insult, if you ring the BBC Trust you get – guess what? – the same Capita Office that deals with routine BBC complaints.

  12. samir khan permalink
    August 3, 2015 3:07 pm

    It is very bad that the BBC only shows one sided new.The report on Iran and nuclear deal.It was scare mongering.it also gives false news on Ukraine situation.What i want know is why.We pay for accurate news.if it is pressure from other source we like to know.Why should we search and watch other channel news,if we pay for B B C Licence.
    The B B C has for years fooled us,it is not correct,like cnn and alzeera it has changed from good reporting to very low quality and biased news.The tyrants in middle east Bahrain and Israel commit crime.the B B C doe snot show any news or say anything.the public prefer proper news.not news which is very biased.

  13. roger finch permalink
    September 1, 2015 2:44 pm

    Why can’t I watch the final episode of ‘Partners in Crime’ on catch-up TV?

  14. W. BECKET permalink
    September 1, 2015 4:43 pm

    I am afraid that you have all been deceived in this matter. When you ring the number (or write to the address) your complaint is not dealt with by the BBC in any way shape or form. It is, in fact, dealt with by Capita who merely ‘pass on’ what you say in the form of a statistic. In fact, for all the effect it has on the BBC, the Capita clerk might just as well be a machine. The same applies to the BBC Trust whose complaints are also dealt with by Capita. However, don’t take my word for it, Ring both the BBC and Trust and ask whether you are speaking to the BBC or Capita. They may wriggle a little and become evasive but if you press the point, they will admit that they are, in fact, Capita. The truth is, it is impossible for any ordinary member of the public to contact the BBC directly and needless to say, Capita is no substitute because you cannot have a dialogue with them.

  15. October 10, 2015 12:45 pm

    I can’t believe Chiefs come on to cook wearing long hair not net no band I’m a therapist we are not allowed in the room without proper atire we would be asked to go home get properly dressed and we are not touching food s?

  16. Terence permalink
    December 10, 2015 4:28 pm

    Im sick of the BBC claiming Michael Fassbender is British, he is Half German and Irish and holds an Irish passport ??? claim your own , say when Thatcher called bob geldof a true brit

  17. DAVID FARRELL permalink
    December 21, 2015 7:54 pm

    I have complained many times about UNION FLAG BEING WRONG WAY ROUND TOP OF THE LEFT SIDE SMALL WHITE LINE AT TOP ( TOLD WE ONLY FILMED IT NOT PUT IT THERE )SO WHAT DOES A EDITOR DO ( TO DAY I WATCHED OXFORD STREET REVEALED AND AM SURE BANNERS ACROSS STREET ARE WRONG .

  18. January 6, 2016 9:42 am

    will not be watching Top Gear with that ginger haired idiot do not agree with what Clarkson did typical of the BBC topay all this money our money for this idiot bring back Clarkson Hammond and May

  19. Muckel permalink
    January 10, 2016 2:17 am

    For years I’ve been trying to find out if a senior manager who ‘returned £300k+ and was not prosecuted, was given severance pay and pension. Even the roundabout FOI requests about annual severance arrangements to the Board of Management were treated with ‘Under the Data Protection we are not ‘obliged’ blah blah!!
    Obliged!
    After awhile emails had no names on them.
    I don’t think I ever got a FOI request as to how many and actually who were making the decisions to deny my requests.
    Funny handshakes?

  20. grahamdcox permalink
    February 6, 2016 11:57 am

    Do not read today’s BBC news article on war peace. It has a serious spoiler

  21. February 22, 2016 1:24 pm

    Please stop that dreadful piano in the background, of most programs.

  22. Carolyn Pearson permalink
    February 22, 2016 9:50 pm

    Is Mary wearing real fur in the bake off ? I hope not.

  23. Diane permalink
    March 29, 2016 6:07 pm

    Why when interviewing a relative that has just lost his Neice of a couple of days do you keep asking the most pathetic questions when the poor uncle has already given a lovely and heartfelt statement & thanked everyone. It is painful to watch, why do you always want to squeeze the last bit of compassion out of anyone that you interview. Terrible & unacceptable.

  24. Philip permalink
    April 12, 2016 7:11 pm

    Why is BBC news such poor quality? Once an avid viewer and listener to BBC news I now find myself preferring ITV and Channel 4. BBC news is timid, lacking challenge. Its better journalists have departed and those remaining seem scared and averse to any risk or controversy. Leading the way in the race to blandness is Radio 4 especially Today and PM. It seems that its editors and senior executives carefully script coverage and their use of language is defensive and safe. They devote most of their air time to safe stories that will not upset those setting their license fee or reviewing their charter. The independent commentators that invite are unlikely to say anything outside the mainstream, aggressive interviews are saved for the powerless or those BBC regards as experiencing social unpopularity Evidence of my disappointment was exemplified by their recent approach to the Prime Ministers tax problems and the closure of Port Talbot steel works. While ITV and Channel 4 were unafraid to pose awkward questions and express relatively provocative views BBC was glib with no edge. I have my own opinions why BBC is flaky, but it would be nice to see Auntie show a bit of courage now and again…

  25. Parsifal permalink
    April 12, 2016 9:46 pm

    The truth is that the BBC has become the visual wing of the Guardian – a paper that has a dismally low circulation and is losing readers at the rate of 20% per annum.

  26. Jane Macardle permalink
    April 26, 2016 12:47 pm

    Very biased reporting of the Junior Doctors’ strike today. On Radio4 26thApril the interviewer let Mr Hunt off the hook and sounded terrified. Had he been told to go easy? News at One BBC1 26th April no mention of unsafe imposition of contract only about pay. Hunt given special interview where he dared to say the doctors’ would not have SENSIBLE negotiations with him! Not fair……very biased reporting.How about mentioning Hunts vested interests in private health care or how he made a mess of his last post too. Or how about reporting that the public support the doctors. Funny not much is made of that!

  27. Philip permalink
    April 29, 2016 7:13 am

    Interesting contrast in approach to coverage of Livingstone story by Channel 4 and BBC – 28th April. Channel 4 invited anti and pro Corbyn to debate issue together, BBC took much safer approach with presenters interviewing separately using ‘bad cop’ interview style with Corbynista and ‘good cop’ manner with an anti-Corbyn MP. On Newsnight poor Kirsty Wark seemed to be expected to be almost too cosy with the MP. Must put a lot of pressure on personal integrity of BBC staff being required by editorial board to act so unprofessionally, no wonder the talented ones are shipping out.

  28. jonathon dempsey permalink
    April 30, 2016 9:38 am

    There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the coverage given by the BBC to the Labour Party , under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, is biased to the point of being offensive to viewers who, rightly, expect impartial coverage. The latest disproportionate reporting, about Shah and Livingstone, is an example of a non-story – for Labour is no more or less anti-semitic than any other party – being blown out of all proportion, but the BBC nonetheless persist in producing one-sided interviews and discussions, with Blairite ( Anti-Corbyn) has-beens given free rein to badmouth Labour and Corbyn in particular.
    Its wrong, its immoral and its a unacceptable use of taxpayers money.
    I would not waste my time however in placing a complaint with the BBC direct because I know from previous experience the complaints are binned – yet another cul-de-sac approach to so-called democracy in this country.

    • April 30, 2016 9:54 am

      You only have to watch “Newswatch” on the BBC News channel to see the BBC’s attitude to complaints,
      The BBC is always in the right and the presenter doesn’t have the authority to challenge that.

  29. April 30, 2016 1:14 pm

    I have found it impossible to use the bbc1website to formalise a complaint. Each level of the prompts I followed just brought me back to the first screen which makes you feel like giving up, which may well be intentional me thinks! But I will try to perservere as the subject is Animal Cruelty I was shocked to see on a Cookery programme ‘Master Chef’ April 22 Friday 2016 which I had recorded. Thus I was able to replay to make sure I was not mistaken!

  30. Philip permalink
    May 1, 2016 7:03 pm

    I ruminate on the possibility in twenty years time, when people no longer watch television news, that BBC’s news manipulation will become a scandal in the same way that other issues that happened 25 years ago or more become headlines today. Maybe in 2036 we will find out whether MP John Mann’s confrontation with Livingstone at the BBC’s Westminster centre in front of an army of reporters and photographers was a coincidence. Perhaps in the same year we will discover whether BBC had put plans in place to ensure that in the run up to May 5th elections 2016 nothing positive could be reported about Corbyn nor anything negative highlighted about the government. My guess is that this futuristic revelation may show that BBC’s editors were complicit in keeping any governmental skeleton’s in the cupboard until such time no meaningful damage was done.

  31. Adrian Cheale permalink
    May 4, 2016 4:50 pm

    Ady
    May 4th 2016 17.44.
    I regularly complain to the BBC, if only to add to the numbers. A particular gripe of mine is the Islamophobia, especially on Womans’ Hour. They’re also overtly pro USA. and nearly always have 2 or 3 Yanks on per programme- the rest of the world gets a minor role to play. If a Muslim is on, then they’re inextricably linked with “Terrorism” or inane questions are asked about veils etc, yet Murray et al genuflect to untalented US authors, actors etc to a sickening degree. But I did suceed in getting them to stop Jane Garvey to stop literally snorting derision at men- I mean literally snorting derision!! They didn’t acknowledge my complaint though or thank me for pointing it out and she aint done it since!

  32. Philip permalink
    May 4, 2016 8:52 pm

    Interested in the item on Radio 4’s Today programme on 4th May regarding Heathrow’s third runway – presenter Nick Robinson – he of arch corporate BBC man and former president of Oxford University Conservative Students Association – interviewed Louise Ellman MP as chair of the Common’s Transport Group about the runway. However, as I guessed she wasn’t really on for the runway discussion, but for Robinson’s last question about the Chief Rabbi’s letter to the Daily Telegraph about Labour and anti-semitism. Where did that come from? Well I imagine BBC’s editors know Ellman is a devout anti-Corbynite and in their pursuit of doubly ensuring May 5th election results are disastrous for Corbyn they will take any chance to stretch the emotive anti-semitism story out a little further.

  33. Bruceludkins permalink
    May 7, 2016 5:13 pm

    Why are subjected to that awful women presenting tonight’s 6’0 clock news I thought we had seen the last of her are we obligated to employ her

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: