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31/01/2002

BBC promise greater accountability

THE BBC have pledged to clean up their act and to make themselves more accountable to the licence-fee paying public.
The chairman of the BBC, Gavyn Davies, believes that greater accountability requires better access to the complaint process by consumers and the promise of prompt action following the relevant procedures. He hopes that accountability will be the hallmark of the corporation's work over the next five years.
"Saying sorry does not excuse us when we get things wrong, but it is an important element in being accountable to our audiences," he said. Mr Davies went on to explain that since November, senior BBC managers had been involved in an exercise to encourage feedback from the public. The results of this programme will be revealed in the BBC's end-of-year report.
Meanwhile, the BBC director general's report for October to December 2001 revealed that of the 265 complaints considered by the BBC's Programme Complaints Unit (PCU) over half were upheld. Mr Dyke said that the rise "doesn't mean there's been a sudden slump in editorial standards" as most complaints were made about two programmes in particular – 'Question Time' and 'An Evening With Robbie Williams'.
The 'Question Time' episode was televised live two days after the September 11 attacks and debated the US response. The BBC received over 2000 phone calls that night to complain about the anti-American content of the programme. Indeed, Philip Lader, the former US ambassador to London, who appeared on the panel was reportedly close to tears at the end of the transmission. The BBC's accountability drive has been designed to remove such errors and imbalances from their programme content. (GMcG)
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