One need only see that expression and, if they have any scintilla of interest in Freedom of Information and accountability for the use of taxpayers’ money, they will know instantly this post is about the BBC and its blatant misuse of a clause in the Freedom of Information act as it relates to the corporation.
The BBC makes liberal use of FOI to demand information that it then uses to construct news stories and editorial pieces. Yet when the BBC receives FOI requests that enquire about how it has determined its editorial stance on any number of issues and from where it took advice to inform that stance, the slams the door shut and the very people forced to pay to fund the BBC are treated with contempt and told to piss off.
The government has been complicit in this evasion, protecting the BBC as part of the establishment. So when the BBC is challenged and taken to an information tribunal, the establishment sees to it the tribunal outcome is determined by ‘reliable’ placemen with an in-built bias against freedom of information and personal enmity to the worldview of the claimant. The BBC spends huge sums of our money to defend such actions and keep the information concealed from us, then continues about its propagandist mission while funding it with yet more our money.
It is high time people removed their rose tinted glasses and set aside the carefully constructed and insiduous ‘Auntie’ narrative and demanded this publicly funded organisation be held to account. It thrives with public money but wants to be treated as a private organisation and a special case. It has to end.
Having a clause that permits the BBC to decline FOI requests ‘for the purposes of journalism’ is perfectly rational and appropriate, if it conceals whistleblowers and details of human sources of news material – or who provide assistance to reporters on dangerous assignment – who might lose their jobs through retaliation or be targeted by vengeful individuals or regimes seeking violent retribution. No reasonable person would question that.
But concealing the names and credentials of so called ‘experts’ (many of whom it appears are no more than activits and lobbyists) who are gathered to inform the editorial position of the BBC, secreting away reports into the BBC’s coverage on important issues and fighting court actions to keep them secret, and refusing to release details of viewer/listener feedback/complaints about slanted coverage is a wilful and unacceptable misuse of the clause.
It is time for the FOI Act, as it relates to the BBC, to be strictly redefined to ensure the corporation is forced to be properly accountable to those who fund it. It is plain wrong that the BBC can, if it chooses (and as many suspect) fill a room with partial and likeminded people and use them to influence news and current affairs output while hiding their identities and agendas from us so we cannot question their involvement or suitability. The attendee lists and outputs of such sessions are not being held for the purposes of journalism, but rather as a validation of the partial worldview the BBC chooses to hold and propagate via its channels. The FOI should not and must not apply in such cases.