The BBC publishes Editorial Guidelines, which it must adhere to in its broadcast and print journalism under the terms of the BBC Charter. The most relevant guidelines in terms of its reporting on Palestine/Israel are those on Accuracy and Impartiality. (see Information on Accuracy and Impartiality)
If you feel a broadcast or online article has breached the guidelines on Accuracy and/or Impartiality, you can make an official complaint to the BBC.
The entire complaints process from the initial complaint to receiving the BBC Trust’s final decision takes between six and eight months. The BBC is slow to reply at every stage, and does not always inform the complainant that the complaint can be escalated to a higher level. These guidelines should help you to navigate the complaints process so that you can hold the BBC to account more often and more effectively.
There are three stages to the process.
1. The initial complaint must be made within 30 working days of the television or radio broadcast. There is no time limit for complaining about online articles.
Always ask for a reply to your initial complaint. This means that BBC executives have to work at constructing an answer to your criticism, rather than just filing and forgetting about it.
To receive a reply to your complaint from the BBC, the complaint must be made through one of the official channels – via the website, by phone or by post. If you write directly to the programme concerned, this will not be considered an official complaint, and you will not be able to take the complaint through the BBC complaints procedure to the BBC Trust.
Website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/ (select ‘Complain Online’ and fill out and submit the online form)
Phone: 03700 100 222
Post: BBC Complaints, PO Box 1922, Darlington, DL3 0UR
If you haven’t received a reply within two weeks, chase the BBC using the same method you used to make your initial complaint.
On receiving a reply – If it fails to answer your criticisms satisfactorily, please respond, again using the same method you used initially. Tell the BBC you are not happy with its response, and why, and ask for information on how to escalate the complaint. You will receive a reply directing you to the Editorial Complaints Unit.
2. The Editorial Complaints Unit (ECU)
This is the second level of the complaints procedure. You have 20 working days from receiving your second response at Stage 1 in which to write to the ECU. This can be done by email or by post, and there is a 1,000 word limit for you to explain why you are unhappy with the broadcast or article you are complaining about, and why you feel your concerns were not answered at Stage 1. The ECU will investigate your complaint against its Guidelines on Accuracy and Impartiality, so the complaint will be more effective if you state which of these guidelines you feel has been breached, and in what way.
Post: The Editorial Complaints Unit, Room 5168, BBC White City, 201 Wood Lane, London, W12 7TS.
The ECU will investigate your complaint and send you a draft finding for you to comment on. Following this, it will send you its final decision.
If you are not satisfied with the ECU’s final decision, you can proceed to the BBC Trust.
3.The BBC Trust
You can now request an appeal against the ECU’s finding. This must be done within 20 working days of receiving the final decision from the ECU. Your appeal will be looked at by the BBC Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee (ESC).
The ESC may decide you have no grounds for appeal and refuse to investigate your complaint. You have one chance to appeal against this decision before the complaint is formally closed.
If the ESC decides you have grounds to be dissatisfied with the ECU’s decision, it will investigate your complaint against the BBC’s Guidelines on Accuracy and Impartiality. This investigation could take up to 80 working days.
If your complaint is upheld, it will be published on the BBC’s website, here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/our_work/complaints_and_appeals/esc.html
The Trust may issue an apology and require the BBC Executive to take remedial action to guard against the breach occurring again.
The BBC Complaints Framework can be read in full here: http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/regulatory_framework/protocols/2012/complaints_fr_work_ed_complaints.pdf