Originally published at: https://decentered.co.uk/bbc-local-radio-england-complaint-to-ofcom/
I’ve made a complaint this morning to Ofcom regarding the way the BBC is handling public engagement for its proposed changes to local radio in England. As a public service paid from a universal licence fee, the BBC should be held to a higher standard of public scrutiny than commercial and free market media. If the BBC can’t provide adequate public information and meaningful consultation with licence fee payers, trust in the BBC as a universal public institution is undermined. The responses I’ve received from my complaints to the BBC have been cursory and off-hand. I can’t help feel that licence fee payers are being treated with contempt by an institution that is out of touch with the needs and the wishes of the people who fund it.
To complain to Ofcom, a complaint first has to be made to the BBC https://www.bbc.co.uk/contact/complaints
If the response is unsatisfactory, then a complaint can be made to Ofcom https://www.ofcom.org.uk/tv-radio-and-on-demand/advice-for-consumers/how-ofcom-deals-with-bbc-complaints
Here’s my complaint made this morning:
I wish to complain that the BBC is failing in its duty to meaningfully engage with the public in relation to its proposed changes to BBC Local Radio in England.
The BBC have updated their public information regarding the proposals, but little has been made clear beyond a single press release.
There seems to be no information provided online that I can view what the proposed changes are, how they differ between different areas, and what response has been given from the public.
The BBC responded to my complaint (see below), by indicating that they value feedback, but they continually fail to provide any verifiable evidence of what that feedback says.
The BBC has similarly failed to put any information into the public domain relating to their market research, which they are using to justify their decision, so that licence fee payers and other organisations might make an independent assessment of the case that the BBC is proposing as necessary for the sustainability of their services.
I believe this is an abuse of their monopoly position as a public service broadcaster, which is counter to the interests of citizens and licence fee payers.
The proposed changes to BBC Local Radio may well have a detrimental impact on the independent media economy in many places, but I am unable to come to a view about this because so little evidence of consultation is available to view.
As the supervising agency that assesses the BBC’s performance, and acting in the interest of the licence fee payer and other citizens, can Ofcom please compel the BBC to publish a full impact assessment of their proposals.
This should include an equalities assessment for audiences, a civic-engagement assessment for local public services in each area, and an economic assessment for other independent media service providers who my be affected by these changes, both community and commercial.
It is unacceptable that the BBC do not have to engage in meaningful public consultation when proposing changes of this scale and nature, as other public service organisations are bound to do.
The limited information that has been placed in the public domain is far from sufficient for anyone to make an independent assessment of the course of action that is being pursued.
The lack of engagement undermines trust in the BBC and weakens the case for a universal licence fee if citizens and licence fee payers are unable to engage meaningfully with the BBC on proposed changes.