Sunday 27 January 2019

Complaints, complaints

Minoan labyrinth, apparently modelled on the BBC's complaint process

I recently received an email from a reader who has battled the BBC's labyrinthine complaints process and won. 

It took a lot of perseverance, including a long exchange of letters with the BBC and an escalation to Ofcom, but, finally, out of the blue, the BBC capitulated and conceded the point of the complaint. 

So, if you're very patient and are prepared to jump through several BBC hoops, it can be done!

Indeed, here are a couple more recent examples. The first made me smile, as - like the above complaint - it obviously had to slog its way through the entire BBC complaints process to end up at the Executive Complaints Unit. I bet it took weeks, and yet all that was needed was for the BBC to acknowledge the error (a very basic error) and correct it. The wheels of the BBC complaints system grind very slowly at times: 

And the next one, on a heavier subject, concerns a report from BBC Arabic's Nida Ibrahim:

You may also like to read some of the BBC's latest Corrections and Clarifications (the first of which should be familiar to you!):

Wednesday 23rd January 2019: Question Time, BBC One and BBC Radio 5 live, 17 January 2019

A YouGov poll published on the day of the programme suggested a lead for the Conservatives but Diane Abbott was also right to say that some other polls suggested Labour either as ahead or tied, and we should have made that clear. We should normally report the findings of opinion polls in the context of trend and must always do so when reporting voting intention polls.

Thursday 17th January 2019: World at One, BBC Radio 4, 26 December 2018

We said that “over the past few decades… four fifths of Iraq's Christians have fled or been killed; in Israel and the Palestinian territories, as those following other religions have grown sharply in number, the Christian population has shrunk.” In the region as a whole, numbers are certainly continuing to fall. But in recent times Israel’s Christian population has increased - for example, in 2017, by 2.2%.

Thursday 10th January 2019: News at Ten, BBC One and BBC News Channel, 9 January 2019

The headlines reported the Prime Minister as saying that her plan was the only realistic one and the only way to avoid "crashing out" of the EU without a deal.
We should clarify this phrase was used in the debate by several MPs but not by the Prime Minister.

Friday 21st December 2018: Today, BBC Radio 4, 13 December 2018

It was said on the programme that the EU Referendum of 2016 was "the biggest vote in our country’s history".
In 2016 33.57 million votes were cast, including rejected papers.
More votes were actually cast in the 1992 General Election - a total of 33.61 million.  

Thursday 13th December 2018: News Channel, 15 October 2018

In a report about African Penguins and why their numbers are in decline we said conservationists say their natural habitats are being hit by rising tides caused by climate change. While studies show climate change is having an impact on penguin numbers, it is because of rising sea temperatures affecting fish stocks, rather than rising sea levels. Other factors include commercial fishing practices, which are making it more difficult for African Penguins to find enough to eat and survive. We apologise for the error.

Monday 10th December 2018: BBC London News, BBC One London, 4 December 2018

In a report on plans for a new Holocaust memorial in Westminster, we referred to Adampol as a ‘Polish labour camp’.
We regret any upset this resulted in - a clearer description should have been used, to explain that it was a Nazi German camp located in Poland.   

Thursday 29th October 2018: The World at One, BBC Radio 4, 2 August 2018

In a report on the history of the European Union, we said 10 new countries joined the 12 countries already in the EU in 2004. In fact there were 15 existing members by 2004, as Sweden, Finland and Austria had all joined in 1995.

Thursday 22nd November 2018: Today, Radio 4 and NewsHour, World Service, 30 October 2018

In a report about municipal elections in Jerusalem it was reported that Ramadan Dabash was on the ballot representing a Palestinian party and that this was a first. In fact this is not the case. A Palestinian candidate representing a Palestinian party also appeared on a ballot paper for the municipal council in 1998 and did not pass the voting threshold to win a seat. 

Thursday 15th November 2018: Mediterranean With Simon Reeve, BBC Two, 21 October 2018

While visiting Sicily, it was stated that San Cataldo church in Palermo had previously been a Mosque. This was not accurate. The site of the Palermo Cathedral would have been a better example to choose to illustrate the diverse history of the city.


  1. So using 'in most respects, accurate' as another alternative from my list of BBC 'little bit pregnant' weasels.

    I also notice, with a total lack of surprise, how often the word 'view' comes up, not in a good way. Along with 'belief' and 'think' (especially in the hands, and minds, of ECU directors, pretty much anything they want it to be, and they pretty much want it to be what they want).

    And, maybe, the trumpeted BBC unit should be renamed BBC InFactNotChecker?

    And despite reminders, BBC 'journalists' do seem to get 'forgetting' the basics. Maybe the Alzheimers that struck the top floor during the Pollard Report investigations has spread?

  2. Craig, you know six months ago when you needed to use your car to get your sick mother to hospital, and suddenly your car wasn't there
    ..that was me , let me say I'm a bit sorry and I've put it back now
    I don't expect there to be any consequences to me.

    That's what this complain and get a correction 6 months laters appears to be like

  3. ONe is dated the other isn't
    The Corrections and Clarifications page actually gives both the date of the error and the date of correction
    but for Complaints judgements those links to individual items have a problem, cos they don't list a correction date

    1. I have found the page that indexes the successful complaints and shows both complaint date and upheld date
      However that page doesn't allow robots to track it for changes
      I can partially monitor it via Twitter

  4. I’d be dubious about clicking the links above.

    1. Ha ! Craig/Sue have deleted that post above with the dodgy links from a spammer (who used a porn star's name)


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