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25/04/2001

BBC PROGRAMME COMPLAINTS BULLETIN PUBLISHED

THE BBC Programme Complaints Bulletin, published on April 24, underlines the BBC’s determination to be accountable to licence payers, the BBC Chairman Sir Christopher Bland has said.
In the foreword to the latest quarterly BBC Programme Complaints Bulletin, Bland said: "The Board of Governors are responsible for ensuring that the BBC maintains high editorial standards and have a proper system for handling complaints. Giving a public account of serious editorial complaints which have been upheld and the action taken to remedy them is an important element in delivering this responsibility.
"We are determined that the BBC should be accountable to licence payers for the programmes and services they deliver, and that is the purpose of this bulletin."
The latest bulletin gives details of complaints upheld by the Programme Complaints Unit for the first quarter of this year, as well as details of appeals heard by the Governors during the same period.
Bland said there were an unusually large number of complaints in this quarter, but there was a slight downward trend over the year.
In his report, Director General Greg Dyke explained that the above average number of complaints stemmed largely from the comedy show ‘Room 101’ broadcast on BBC One on March 5 2001, which featured Anne Robinson. The PCU did not uphold these complaints.
Dyke said: "Although the Unit didn't uphold the complaints about ‘Room 101’, I think they were an important reminder to us that the question of national identities within the UK is a potentially sensitive one as we adjust to the new relationships brought about by devolution.
"There's still scope for banter, and I hope we never get to the point where cheering for one side or the other at an England-Wales match is equated with racism. But the jokes and the competitiveness need to be in a context of mutual respect, which the BBC should support rather than undermine.
"I think the way the BBC represents the nations of the UK generally does support mutual respect, and I am sorry so many people felt we did the opposite in this instance."
The report can be seen in full at www.bbc.co.uk/info/bbc. (CD)
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