2012 consultation on the BBC Complaints Framework and Associated Procedures

The BBC Trust oversees the BBC’s complaints process. In July 2011, a review of the BBC’s governance processes, led by Lord Patten, Chairman of the BBC Trust, stated that the complaints process should be “faster, simpler and easier to understand”.

The consultation ran from 8 Mar 2012 to 19 Apr 2012.


This review identified ways of improving the complaints system including:

  • Ensuring that the BBC has an appropriate way to listen to the views of its audiences and consider their feedback.
  • Apologising quickly when appropriate and responding to the issues raised.
  • Improving the coordination of complaints handling activity across the BBC.
  • Improving standards of openness and transparency in complaints handling, making clear where complainants should go to complain about BBC broadcast content or services (including in what circumstances complainants may complain to Ofcom), and demonstrating clearly how issues raised have been addressed.
  • Streamlining the appeals process, ensuring the test the Trust will apply to assess appeals is clearer to complainants.

It also set some specific actions: creating a corrections page, creating a single page guide to complaints, and the creation of a Chief Complaints Editor role (you can read more about this in Annex 4 [PDF file]).

Within this new framework, the Trust expects complaints procedures to be clear, fair, efficient and timely, specifically in the following ways:

Clarity: Procedures should: be readily available and easy to understand; give detailed information on how complainants can expect to be treated (including, for example, timescales); if a complainant requires it, give guidance explaining how the complaints system works and about any other methods for resolving a dispute with or a complaint about the BBC (e.g. through other bodies such as Ofcom, ATVOD or the OFT); and give reasons for decisions.

Fairness: complaints should be dealt with in an open-minded and impartial way; all sides of the story should be considered; so far as practicable, a complainant should be on an equal footing with the BBC.

Efficiency: the process must be appropriate, proportionate and cost effective, balancing the interests of all licence fee payers with the rights of individual complainants and the BBC.

Timeliness: the complaints process should be quick and simple.

The changes proposed in this document should meet these requirements. They should also help the BBC meet any increase in complaints within current resources. This is significant because the BBC has a duty to use resources efficiently and proportionately in the interests of licence fee payers as a whole. If the BBC spends more money in the future on complaints then there may be less money to make programmes and deliver services.