The Catch 22 clause in the BBC’s complaints procedure

Several readers have brought to our attention instances of the BBC’s recent employment of what is known as the Expedited Complaints Procedure. According to that BBC protocol (introduced in June 2012 – see Annex B):

Expedited Complaints Procedure 1

Expedited Complaints Procedure 2In one case a correspondent has had his access to the BBC complaints system limited until September 2016 and in another case a reader has been informed by the BBC that the Expedited Complaints Procedure will be applied to his complaints in the coming two years on the basis of clauses (d) and (e) in the above protocol.

“(d) are shown on investigation to have no reasonable prospect of success; or

(e) after rejection of the complaint at an earlier stage (eg Stage 1), are persistently and repeatedly appealed unsuccessfully to the next stage (eg Stage 2).”

Of course the body which rules whether or not a complaint has a “reasonable prospect of success” and which rejects or accepts an appeal is none other than the self-regulating BBC itself.

The concept of stakeholders in an organisation they are obliged to fund by law being subjected to limitations on complaints on the basis of arbitrary decisions made by that same self-regulating organisation is surely one which is worthy of public debate ahead of the renewal of the BBC’s Royal Charter in 2016.

Related Articles:

The saga of three questions the BBC did not want to answer – part one

The saga of three questions the BBC did not want to answer – part two

3 comments on “The Catch 22 clause in the BBC’s complaints procedure

  1. I stopped complaining a few years ago after the BBC ceased to even acknowledge receipt of my complaints.

    In my case their “Expedited Complaints Procedure” ruse has worked to a T, they can now claim that because they receive fewer complaints their reporting has improved.

  2. Of course the notion of public sector oversight entities being judge, jury (also prosecution, defence, stenographer, etc) and expediter in-house is not unheard of, but the BBC also manages to keep all in secret under an FOI-exemption lid ‘for the purposes of journalism’.

    So, basically, if one resorts to their complaints system about what they do, they can use what they do to not talk about it. At all. No explanation. No excuse. Case closed because the BBC says the BBC has none to answer.

    Some may feel that is one of too many uniques too far.

    They will be held to account one day because they are stuffing up too much and this bizarre self-protection system is being deployed with too many too often. An FOI on how many complaints are ‘dealt with’ in this way may be interesting, if doubtless hard to acquire. It’s possible a lot of sincere, qualified people with legitimate concerns have been treated the same way by the BBC, yet who would know?

    Imagine the next politician invited to explain to a Davies or Humphrys turns around and informs them they are reporta-non-grata simply because they ask too many awkward questions, some of which said politician ‘feels’ have a poor chance of being answered?

    The notion of banning critics because the BBC can’t handle the criticism any other way belongs in the realms of Orwell.

    It takes a rare breed to hold fast and weather all they throw at the complainant in people, time and resources. Few do, and can prevail. Any who falter will see their complaint, no matter how valid, simply moved to the ‘failed’ column for stats produced to please credulous mandarins. They will also acquire a strike the BBC can and will use to justify an expediting. There is, of course, no way for the person being sent to Coventry to access how any of this was discussed, assessed or decided. Again, all internal, in secret. For the purposes of…

    Can’t imagine at what point in Orwell’s career he was inspired to his warnings about institutionalised abuse protected by bureaucratic bovine insanity.

  3. I can recognize a legal stitch-up when I see it. This regulation is worthy of the worst bits of old South African apartheid legislation in terms of being an appalling breach of natural justice. It’s just too widely drafted to be any good.

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