How to Complain to the BBC

Under the terms of the new 2016 BBC Royal Charter and Agreement changes have been made to the complaints system. 

In general, complaints regarding impartiality, accuracy or bias in BBC broadcasting should initially be made directly to the BBC. Complaints concerning Fairness and/or Privacy can be submitted directly to OFCOM.

Complaints to the BBC: 

Complaints can be made online (recommended), by telephone or by post – details here. There are up to three stages to the complaints process – outlined here.

Complaints concerning content broadcast on the BBC World News TV channel should be made using this link.

The BBC’s guide to its Complaints Framework and Procedures (published in October 2017) can be found here.

Complaints to OFCOM:

OFCOM is the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries. It operates a Broadcasting Code, the latest version of which can be found here

Under the terms of the 2016 Royal Charter and Agreement, OFCOM has regulatory responsibility for BBC content standards including, for the first time, for the accuracy and impartiality of news, and the impartiality of any programme covering politically controversial issues or current public policy.

From April 3rd 2017, the OFCOM Broadcasting Code applies in full to BBC licence-fee funded broadcasting services and, as relevant, to BBC on demand programme services (such as the BBC iPlayer).

OFCOM has set and published procedures for the handling and resolution of relevant complaints about the BBC which are referred to OFCOM in the following circumstances:

  • If a complainant is not satisfied with the resolution of a complaint by the BBC;
  • If a complainant considers, following the resolution of a complaint by the BBC, that the imposition by OFCOM of a sanction, where available, may be appropriate;
  • If the BBC has failed to resolve a complaint within the time period set in its procedures.

OFCOM’s complaints procedures are available here.

Details of different categories of complaints can be found here.

The online form for submission of a complaint to OFCOM is available here.

BBC Online:

Regarding complaints concerning the UK version of BBC Online, complainants will be able to obtain an independent opinion from OFCOM on whether the BBC has observed editorial guidelines on the content of online material in its UK Public Services, once the relevant legislation has been put in place. OFCOM will enter into an arrangement with the BBC making provision for this and will publish procedures to inform consumers and other interested stakeholders as to how complaints about BBC online material will be considered and handled.  

BBC World Service:

OFCOM does not regulate standards for the BBC World Service.

BBC commercial services:

BBC commercial broadcast services, provided by BBC companies, are not UK Public Services but are subject to OFCOM’s content standards regulation under the terms of their OFCOM licences.

Complaints concerning content broadcast on the BBC World News TV channel should be made using this link.

Further reading concerning OFCOM’s Operating Framework for the BBC (effective as of April 3rd 2017) can be found here and here