News at Six Complaint Stage 2: Viewer Response 5

Subject: Re: Editorial Complaints Unit Email (12 Dec)
Date: Fri, 12 Dec 2014 16:00:09 +0000
From: Ian McNulty
To: Colin Tregear <>

Dear Mr Tregear,

Thank you for your email of 12 December. I am be happy to clarify your point. You are correct, this is the first time that I have raised the issue of the language used by a BBC Correspondent on a BBC News Channel report on 22 July.

I did not raise it before because it was not directly relevant to my complaint, which is the lack of prominence given  to the ONS deficit figure on that evening’s BBC News at Six in comparison to the prominence given to the IMF growth forecast on the same programme two days later.

I would have included the issue of the BBC News Channel report along with several others as part of my initial complaint of 25 July but, as noted in that complaint, the 1,500 character limit of the BBC’s web form made it impossible.

I have only raised the issue at this juncture because the BBC’s final Stage 1b response deals with the lack of prominence of the ONS deficit figure on that evenings News at Six in in terms of total BBC News output over time, making it necessary for any counterarguments to do the same.

However, if BBC rules require me to submit this part of the complaint as a new complaint through the Stage 1 process before moving on to Stage 2 then I am happy to comply .The condition set out in Section 2.1 of the BBC’s published complaints handling process should not be a problem. If the BBC had responded to my initial Stage 1 complaint within 10 days, as their email of 25 July said they should, we would have reached where we are now with plenty of time to spare. If I am allowed the same proportionate extension on the 30 days limit as the BBC allowed itself on the 10 day limit (x12.2) then I have until December 2015.

I understand that “the choice of which news events, stories and announcements etc.are included in a particular news bulletin or programme is a matter of editorial discretion for the relevant editor and/or producers”. Indeed I cannot imagine how it would be possible to run a news programme any other way. However I do not accept that editorial discretion can never “raise a potential breach of the BBC’s editorial standards.” If that were true it would make a mockery of the Editorial Standards and Guidelines and the whole complaints process would be nothing more than a sham.

I sincerely hope this is not the case, but if it is then my initial complaint would be irrelevant and this would now be the main focus of my complaint and concern.

I would be grateful therefore if you could confirm that matters of editorial discretion do not and can not raise a potential breach of editorial guidelines, and that this view is supported by the BBC Legal Department, Executive and Trust.

I await your confirmation of the above statement before proceeding further.

Yours sincerely,

Ian McNulty


Chain of Correspondence:

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