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BBC objects to government plans on FOI

Martin Rosenbaum | 17:57 UK time, Thursday, 8 March 2007

The BBC has today submitted its response to the government consultation on restricting freedom of information.

The response makes clear the BBC's opposition to the government's proposals. It concludes:

"The people who would suffer are in fact our audiences who would be deprived of valuable information that we could no longer provide to them – information which would help hold public authorities to account and which would help facilitate public discussion of and informed participation in decision-making."
"These proposals would dramatically curtail the ability of BBC journalists and others to put into the public domain material which merits disclosure in the public interest. In this way the proposed changes would actually obstruct the aim of increasing transparency and openness in public life that lies behind the government's introduction of FOI."
"We believe that FOI has strengthened the BBC's ability to achieve the objective of delivering greater accountability and transparency to licence fee payers. While our experience of handling requests has been challenging it has also been rewarding. From our perspective as an authority receiving requests we see absolutely no need for the measures that are being proposed."

The deadline for responding to the consultation is today, although I gather that some significant organisations have yet to comment and the Department for Constitutional Affairs will still be accepting some submissions next week.

Under Cabinet Office rules for consultations the Department should announce its next intentions within three months.

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 11:47 AM on 09 Mar 2007,
  • theundersatnding wrote:

Is thing anything to do with large financial fees to be charged for the government retrieving and delivering information, under FOI ?

Well if, all of a sudden, journalists, and the public get quick access to everything, they could start to have have a field day, attacking the gov. / gov. depts and we could see too much chaos and demoralisation.

This picture though does provide a healthy warning to all, that honesty is what is now increasingley required, in thought and action. Funnily enough, we will have to start accepting this will increasingly apply to ourselves, Mister and Missus, and their little ones, Joe the public, et al (and all).

Which could come as a shock to many.
So, for this sort of consideration, it will be as well to allow some time for adjustment.

The greed the government has to have our information, and spread it about willy nilly in and between public service departments and who knows where else, seems to maybe be an unconscious response to the novel '1984'.

Read some more novels to over-write this feeling that it is your- (government, and come to think of health, education, and all sorts official expert bodies) role to command all, every detail, of our lives.

Politicians should please, only work 2 or 3 days a weeks. The PM, 1 or 1 1/2 days a week, otherwise much too much governing takes place, and obsessiveness can develope.

Yes, of course we need to know how many passports, health cards etc. have been given out, and how many people, and who, are in the country, coming, going, in and out, of the country, if they pay any tax, etc.

But thats different to being over intrusive with our domestic privacy. Desist.

  • 2.
  • At 10:33 AM on 10 Mar 2007,
  • David Jones wrote:

The BBC is quite right, in my opinion, to fight to keep, and even extend, the rules on freedom of official information. However, it it will be difficult for many people to take seriously its advocacy of the 'public interest' when it has itself shown itself quite unaware of (or possibly, cynically seeking to equivocate between) the difference between 'the public interest' and 'what the public is interested in'. (Anyone at the BBC remember Tom Stephens or has that been airbrushed out of the corporate memory ...?)

  • 3.
  • At 02:33 PM on 10 Mar 2007,
  • Paul Dockree wrote:

Another attack on the BBC, Martin?

I was discussing that black USA presidential candidate with my wife the other day following hearing Richard (West Wing) Schiff on Broadcasting House. Mr Schiff was amongst several commentators who remarked on how far back Obama's "opponents" are prepared to go back in his ancestry to criticise him on at the moment. A mere 300 years - making the poor man responsible for this distant forbears "failings". Keeping slaves I think it was. Not common back then was it? The scoundrel! How dare Obama be related to him!

So every perceived sin in the FOI area is to be revisited on the BBC via texters is it? This is not a real criticism though - the BBC is made up of many minds and minds change. When people tell me such things about my past, if I accept it as correct, I deem it as showing I have "grown" or matured.

So as I said on a previous post - the mere fact "the perceived sin" is published here - proves we are all, humans and organisations are capable of growth.

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