The BBC aims to be as open as possible. However, organisations covered by the Freedom of Information Act are entitled to withhold information when an appropriate exemption can be suitably applied. The full list of exemptions and more detailed information about them can be found at the Information Commissioner's website.

These exemptions apply to the BBC and our Publication Scheme may therefore not include certain types of information because of the application of these exemptions.

Exemptions where the public interest in withholding the information must be greater than the public interest in disclosing it:

  • Section 22 - Information intended for future publication
    Information intended for future publication which it is reasonable to withhold until publication; for example, information that is published in the BBC's Annual Report & Accounts.

  • Section 24 - National security
    Information is exempt if disclosure would prejudice national security. 

  • Section 31 - Law enforcement
    If disclosure of the information would prejudice for example the prevention or detection of crime, we can withhold it. For example, we have applied section 31 to information we hold about TV licensing enforcement.

  • Section 36 - Free and frank discussions/advice, prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs
    Disclosure of the information would prejudice the ability to have free and frank exchanges of views or to give free and frank advice, or would prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs. The BBC's Qualified Person must approve the use of this exemption in each case that it is used.

  • Section 38 - Health and safety
    This exemption is about protecting the health or safety of any person (not just BBC staff).

  • Section 42 - Legal professional privilege
    Legally privileged information is exempt.

  • Section 43(2) - Commercial interests
    Information is exempt it is disclosure would prejudice, or would be likely to prejudice, the commercial interests of the BBC or anyone else. 

Other exemptions:

  • Section 21 - Information accessible to applicant by other means
    Information that is reasonably accessible to the applicant already. For example, if it is available in the BBC's Annual Report, or if it has already been published in the BBC's Publication Scheme.

  • Section 32 - Court records etc
    Information held by the BBC but only in court documents.

  • Section 40 - Personal information
    We will withhold personal information if disclosure would breach one or more of the principles of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

  • Section 41 - Information provided in confidence
    Information where disclosure would be a breach in confidence of common law.

  • Section 44 - Prohibitions on disclosure
    Information where disclosure is prohibited by law.