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Saturday, 1 December 2012

BBC Delays Truth Over Savile Exposure


As recent weeks have shown there are many things the BBC is abysmal at.

Something they have been abysmal at for a very long time is transparency under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Indeed, it is becoming a bit of a TV Licensing Blog crusade to hold the BBC to public account by forcing them to answer awkward questions using that piece of legislation. We are reminded of one particularly cringe worthy moment when the BBC did not have a clue how many people had actually complained about TV Licensing. They didn't know that, despite knowing full well that TV Licensing receives regular criticism for its heinous enforcement tactics.

Every now and then the BBC raises its drawbridge and refuses to play ball. They often cite the most spurious of legal exemptions in a desperate effort to keep some of their innermost secrets away from the public spotlight. Did you know that the BBC refuses to answer half of the Freedom of Information Act requests it receives? Are those the actions of an organisation with nothing to hide? That performs its public function under the legitimate scrutiny of the licence fee payer? We think not.

We are currently at loggerheads with the BBC over the ITV "Exposure - The Other Side of Jimmy Savile" programme, which aired on 3rd October 2012. Media reports suggest that the BBC were forewarned of ITV's intent to broadcast this programme, so we reasoned that the BBC may have gone into self-defence mode in the intervening days. We tabled the following request for information to the BBC:

"On Wednesday, 3rd October 2012 ITV broadcast a programme called "Exposure - The Other Side of Jimmy Savile". The programme, which was well publicised in advance of being broadcast, contained several allegations about former BBC presenter Jimmy Savile.

"Under the terms of the 2000 Act please provide me with all information the BBC holds in relation to the broadcast of "Exposure - The Other Side of Jimmy Savile" on ITV on 3rd October 2012. My request for information includes that contained in relevant letters and emails generated by the BBC, their staff, or others acting on their behalf."

The days passed and true to form the BBC failed to respond in the 20 working days required by law. After a gentle nudge we received an email from BBC lawyer Stephanie Simmonds, who told us that she was refusing to disclose the information as the BBC needed longer to weigh up the public interest.

Let's put that into some context. The BBC, who have known Jimmy Savile was a child sex offender for at least the past year (since their aborted Newsnight exposé in November 2011), can't see the public interest in disclosing their response to the ITV programme that finally unmasked him. They can't see why the public might want to know the BBC's opinion on ITV "stealing" their original Newsnight report.

The BBC has also suggested that they don't want to pre-empt the findings of their own Pollard review into the botched Savile Newsnight investigation, which was actually established several days after we made our request for information.

With the UK audience in uproar at the frivolous way the BBC has handed out public funds to disgraced former employees, there should be a new era of transparency at the Corporation. Instead there is a wall of silence. The same air of secrecy that swept the corridors of the BBC when Savile was abusing some of victims at Television Centre is sweeping the paragraphs of their Freedom of Information responses. That situation is gravely unacceptable.

We have made an internal review request, so stay tuned for further updates.

1 comment:

Mad At The BBC Goons said...

The BBC will forever mask over things they dont want the public to know, Jimmy Saville is sadly no different in this respect.

What beggars belief is that most folk still pay the TVL despite of the corruption at that organisation, They really need to start thinking of being funded by advertising/subscription or going down the pan, I wouldn't care if they went down the pan now, JS truly did it for me, I haven't paid them ever since.