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This blog is to highlight the unjust persecution of legitimate non-TV users at the hands of TV Licensing. These people do not require a licence and are entitled to live without the unnecessary stress and inconvenience caused by TV Licensing's correspondence and employees.

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Saturday, 23 January 2016

Campaigners Call for Extension of Freedom of Information Act


It's a long standing joke that the BBC, despite sanctimoniously heralding a "new era of transparent accountability" in the wake of the Savile scandal, would often pawn its own grandmother rather than respond to some Freedom of Information requests.

As regular readers will know, the TV Licensing Blog often uses the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to probe the integrity of the national broadcaster. More often than not that same national broadcaster - the one proclaiming its new found, squeaky clean transparency - finds any excuse it can to refuse giving a straightforward response.

In the alarmingly rare event that the BBC does provide a response, there is no guaranteeing its accuracy or completeness. Our experience would suggest that the BBC holds the Freedom of Information Act in contempt, given its laissez faire attitude to processing information requests in a timely and efficient manner.

Under the current legislation, a public authority is only obliged to provide information that it holds in its own right, or that held by another body on the public authority's behalf. This means that whenever the BBC receives an information request on the topic of TV Licensing, it can simply refuse by claiming "the information is held by [name of contractor], but not on our behalf", whether or not that is actually the case.

Another Freedom of Information loophole regularly exploited by the BBC is the journalism, art or literature derogation. Under this rule, the BBC can refuse to provide any information that it holds for the purposes of journalism, art or literature.

Depending on how rigorously the BBC applies the derogation, that could mean it refuses every request that relates to any of its television, radio, theatre, music or publishing operations. Given the abundance of skeletons lurking in the BBC closet, the derogation really is wide open to exploitation by a BBC content on keeping sordid scandal buried for as long as possible. Just yesterday we published an article commenting on the fact that a well-known personality was implicated in historic sex abuse allegations, but was being protected by his BBC paymasters.

The Campaign for Freedom of Information is calling for an extension of the legislation, to make private companies responsible for disclosing information held in relation to their public functions.

Campaign director Maurice Frankel told the Guardian: "Information about public services provided by contractors, whether commercial bodies or charities, should be covered by FoI. The loophole in the act, which excludes such information if the contract doesn’t refer to it, should be closed. The public’s right to know should not be arbitrarily cut off because the staff who provide the service are paid by a contractor not by the authority itself."

The Government is currently conducting a review into the effectiveness of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and we eagerly await the outcome.

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3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Freedom of Information indeed. Just trying to get the number of TV Licence Search Warrants the BBC issues is impossible. They admit they have the information but refuse to issue it on the grounds it may jeopardise their licence fee enforcement efforts.

Fred Bear said...

The BBC doesn't want to admit that their enforcement regime is based on self-incrimination. The goons are practiced in filling in the form TVL178 - they can knock one off in a couple of minutes. They just need to put in the phrase 'TV use admitted' and get it signed in order to claim their commission payments, which they use to bump up their otherwise meagre salaries.

Search Warrant information is available from individual Magistrates Courts. The information that is in the public domain indicates that they are used very, very rarely. Like the infamous 'detector vans' they are really there for propaganda purposes.

I haven't paid the BBC a penny for nearly 20 years (I am legally licence fee I should add) and I've never seen a 'TV detector' or been subject to a search. All I get are regular letters claiming that 'Officers' are carrying a investigation of my address. I chose not to reply to their impudent letters.

Anonymous said...

Aren't the Government helping in this regard by trying to make Freedom Of Information requests chargeable? By helping I naturally mean make it more difficult for us to make requests and they make money from it.