On 27 October, 2021 the BBC published a video by their Home and Legal Correspondent Dominic Casciani, purporting to explain “how we arrived at this crunch moment”- the US’s appeal in the Julian Assange extradition case.
JADC supporter jadcdavidm identified a series of flaws in the video and submitted a complaint to the BBC on November 24th. The flaws were all supportive of the narrative for extradition, and because they were all in the same direction, the complaint claimed bias.
The complaint was a point-by-point critique. Since an online complaint is restricted to only 2000 characters, it was submitted in the post.
A response dated 16 December, 2021 was received in the post on the 21st. Assigned Case Reference CAS-7018479-S2B1R3, it said:
“Thanks for getting in touch with your complaint.
We regret that we are unable to offer a response at present, as your complaint does not currently meet the requirements of our framework. It may help you to read the BBC Complaints Framework on our website, which explains the terms of our service:
We’re not able to proceed at the moment because the complaint has exceeded 1,000 words without a brief note explaining the main points to justify this length.
If you write back and your complaint meets our framework requirements, we may then be able to respond in detail. If you wish to do this, please contact us as you did before, but include the case number above so we can pick up where we’ve left off.
Thanks again for sharing your views
BBC Complaints Team
The following “brief note explaining the main points to justify this length” was sent the same day:
“I hadn’t spotted the length requirement in p14 of 52 of the Complaints Framework, so please accept my apologies for not having provided a brief note to explain the main points to justify the length of the complaint.
The justification is simply that I identified many flaws in the piece I complained about, each one had to be quoted, and the description of the flaw had to be set out convincingly. All that requires more than 1000 words.
The few paragraphs before the table in the original complaint should serve as the 1-page summary of the complaint that p14 says is required.
It is feared by many around the world that the extradition threatens Mr Assange’s life, freedom of the press, and therefore ultimately even our democracy. That’s an important subject, so as originally requested please engage with the individual points in the complaint so that we can arrive at an accurate picture.”
The above response from the BBC is no surprise. In fact, it’s entirely typical – see for example Media Lens’s account of the nature of BBC News, and of its approach to accountability. (It’s interesting to note that this link in that article claims that BBC Complaints is farmed out to Capita, which it describes as “Experts in dull, pro-forma response letters, which fail to address the complainants concerns and a symbol of much that has gone awry at the BBC and in neoliberal, corporatist Britain”).
Nevertheless, we will persist.
In Solidarity #FreeAssangeNow!