How we handle your complaint

Overview

Step 1: Send us your complaint online, by phone or post within 30 days.

Step 2: We circulate your complaint overnight to producers and managers.

If you complain in writing, we’ll normally respond in 2 weeks. 

If you call, we summarise and circulate your complaint but won’t reply (unless you can’t write in because of a disability).

We respond in public to significant issues but not everything.

Step 3: Hopefully you don't need to take it further.

If necessary please write again within 20 working days. Include your case number to help us. 

We’ll reply in a similar period. If you can take it further we’ll tell you how. 

We and Ofcom publish regular reports on complaints.

What to expect

We circulate your complaint in full with all the other reaction we have overnight for producers and managers to read and consider. Please complain centrally in writing or we can’t guarantee you a reply. We investigate possible breaches of standards but won’t reply in detail to views and other comments.

People’s opinions about our work vary widely but this may not imply a breach of standards. For example, last-minute scheduling changes can never please everyone. So our reply may not always be what someone may wish for, but if we are at fault we will apologise.  Please read the complete BBC Complaints Framework for full details.

How does the BBC react to complaints?

We judge the issues they raise against BBC Editorial Guidelines, Ofcom’s expected standards and audience research. If we are at fault, if necessary we’ll take steps to avoid it happening again. The BBC’s Editorial Standards Board reviews complaints each month and reports to the BBC Board. This informs any reviews of editorial, compliance or other policies.

Does the number of complaints make a difference?

No. We’re concerned about each complaint, but what matters is whether the BBC acted wrongly. If so we apologise, if not we try to explain in our reply. If others complain about the same issue as you, our responses will be the same for efficiency. If we come under pressure from petitions, lobbies or from elsewhere we will defend our independence if necessary.

Ofcom

Please complain to the BBC first. The BBC’s regulator Ofcom may later consider a complaint but only after the BBC has replied in full. If so we’ll tell you how to contact Ofcom. The exception is for a complaint about alleged unfairness or infringement of privacy to you (not someone else). These can be made either to the BBC or Ofcom first, but not to both.

Misuse of the service

We will treat you with courtesy and respect and expect the same consideration to be shown to staff. If you misuse the service we may stop correspondence or prevent your future access to it.