BBC announces plans to improve its complaints procedure

Director-general Tim Davie said complaints about the corporation ‘must be dealt with swiftly, fairly and consistently'.

The BBC has announced changes to its complaints process after the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom called for it to be more transparent about its handling of the public’s feedback.

Over the next six months, the broadcaster will make its online complaints page easier to find and use, through new video content and a restructured website.

It will also seek to better explain how audience feedback is shared and used across its services, and improve how it explains the steps in the complaints process.

Royal Television Society London Convention 2022
BBC director-general Tim Davie (Richard Kendal/RTS/PA)

The changes also aim to improve how editorial teams respond to complaints so there is consistency across the BBC and follow-up complaints are dealt with “equally and fairly”.

If complainants are not satisfied with their initial response from the BBC they can currently write back and expect a further reply.

It hopes to improve this process so its follow-up responses are faster and contain a “more reasoned or detailed” response where possible.

BBC director-general Tim Davie said: “Trust is a core value of the BBC.

“If audiences want to raise a complaint they must be dealt with swiftly, fairly and consistently and the process must be easy to understand.

“We thank Ofcom for their research which has helped inform these changes.”

The changes follow an Ofcom review published in June 2022, which found 11% of adults had cause to complain about the BBC in the last year – the highest level among broadcasters but lower compared with other industries.

The complaints mostly related to bias as well as misleading and dishonest content, with Ofcom research suggesting the BBC “is more than twice as likely to attract complaints about these issues compared with other public service broadcasters”.

Ofcom chief Dame Melanie Dawes said then: “Viewers and listeners tell us they aren’t happy with how the BBC handles their complaints, and it clearly needs to address widespread perceptions about its impartiality.

“So we’re directing it to respond to these concerns, by being much more transparent and open with its audiences.”

The BBC said its internal research indicates 84% of complainants felt the process of contacting the BBC was “easy” or “very easy”, based on sample of 1,735 complainants this year.