Please click here for more information about who I am and why I do this.
The text shown after 1), 2), 3) and 4) is copied exactly from the BBC's daily JV Show web page and I acknowledge their copyright of this text.
The "Find out more..." links to web pages referred to by the JV Show web page are available by clicking on the text following 1), 2), 3) and 4).
"Find out more..." text is only included here when it refers to a non-BBC web page link.
You can follow my occasional postings on Twitter at @JVineBlogMan although @TheJeremyVine has blocked me from following him.
I am subject to the BBC's "expedited complaints handling process" (meaning I'll be ignored) for two years from 25/01/12.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

My second appeal letter to the BBC Trust

According to their acknowledgement email, my second appeal letter is due to be discussed today. I can see no reason to not share it with you today, but I do not expect to receive a reply - or a decision - until sometime in May, which is nice...

Ladies and Gentlemen of the BBC Trust,

For a second time I have been invited to write to you to appeal against the BBC’s ruling that I will be subject to the “BBC’s expedited complaints handling procedure” for a period of two years following “dozens of complaints” that I have allegedly submitted over the past 17 months concerning Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine Show.

On 6th March I was in receipt of an unaddressed emailed letter from Natalie Rose saying that my initial appeal had been rejected and that a further appeal was needed from me, hence my letter to you today.

Ms Rose has gone through the 19 complaints I submitted in some detail, and I understand that you will have copies of our correspondence to hand.

The complaints I made are what they are. I stand by every word that I wrote and I see no need to go through them again. However, in the section of Ms Rose’s letter headed “Your appeal” my complaints have been categorised in to three distinct types:

 - Editorial choices of the programme
 - Updates to the programme’s web page
 - Mr Vine’s use of Twitter

There should, of course, be a fourth category concerning those complaints that refer to factually incorrect, speculative or biased reporting, but Ms Rose has chosen to ignore those from her categorisation. I consider that complaints 5, 6, 7, 9 and 13 as shown on Ms Rose’s letter would fall in to this fourth category.

I would like to take advantage of Ms Rose’s categorisation and write about the three issues she has highlighted in more general terms.

Editorial choices of the programme

The Jeremy Vine Show web page describes the programme thus:
Jeremy Vine and guests discuss the news headlines and talk to the people making them

Please note the use of the words “news headlines”. One of my issues with the content of this programme is that it fails to do exactly that. I can cite many examples of where important news headlines are completely ignored and instead completely trivial non-news topics are chosen for discussion instead. During 2011 these mind-numbing subjects included:
 - 14th January: FREEZER - What's the oldest thing in yours?
 - 23rd February: TV ADVERTS - Do you prefer them to the programmes?
 - 24th February: BREAST MILK ICE CREAM - Would you eat it?
 - 3rd June: TV TALENT SHOWS - Did the bitter reality of TV talent shows break your child's heart?
 - 10th June: EXPLODING GLASS TABLES - Has this ever happened to you?
 - 16th June: WART REMOVED BY SHOTGUN – Man used a shotgun to remove a wart on his finger.
 - 24th June: TOOTHBRUSH - Do you share a toothbrush with your partner?
 - 6th October: MEMORIAL BENCHES - When you die do you want a memorial bench?
 - 21st November: FISHY HANDBAG - We discuss the M&S handbag that smells of fish.

June was a bad month!

Following a number of complaints about these choices I was told by Andrew Martin (CAS-658231-6ZZPV6 29/03/11 12:00) that “our audience feedback shows that their editorial team’s story selection is not of huge concern to the vast majority of Jeremy Vine listeners”. Please believe me when I write that as an avid Radio 2 listener it is of concern to me! My complaints were an apparently vain attempt to have this policy changed, or at least re-examined, and have the programme “discuss the news headlines” as described. It appears that I have no choice other than to accept that this programme can and will discuss whatever it likes, whether relevant or not, whether current or not, and safe in the knowledge that the vast majority of its listeners could not care less.

In the same way as professional wrestling is described as Sports Entertainment (and not a proper sport as such) I used the phrase News Entertainment to describe Mr Vine’s programme. I still consider that to be fair, accurate and appropriate.

If you grant my appeal I promise that I will not complain about editorial choices in future. I will also accept that Radio 2’s flagship news programme will discuss non-news trivia on an almost daily basis as it sees fit while continuing to ignore the major and significant news stories of the day.

Updates to the programme’s web page

The BBC has invested millions of pounds in a web presence that is surely the envy of other broadcasters and news organisations. Despite this, it appears that the ability of somebody to type four titles, type four sentences, provide four links to relevant news pages and press “Publish” before 12 o’clock is often beyond the technological capabilities of the people responsible for this task.

My complaints about this poor service, for that is all it is, have been many. In his email (CAS-1260999-S6V2FV 25/01/12 12:08) Lee Rogers told me that “the programme holds the right to publish website content at a time convenient to it”.

If you grant my appeal I promise that I will not complain about late web page updates in future. I will also accept that it is often beyond the capabilities of the BBC to provide such simple updates in a timely and efficient manner, and I will remember that such updates are made for the convenience of the BBC and not for those who fund it.

Mr Vine’s use of Twitter

Mr Vine continues to block my main Twitter account from following his tweets for reasons unknown and unexplained to me.

I have read several sets of BBC guidelines on the use of Twitter, and they make no mention of blocking followers and when and why this may occur. It is obvious that the BBC is keen to embrace Twitter as a method for news dissemination and, presumably, audience interaction. For example, the Updated Social Media Guidance For BBC Journalists (
gives all kinds of information on how Twitter accounts should be used, with links to other relevant documents but I can find no mention of blocking anywhere. It also states “We label the Twitter accounts of some presenters and correspondents as "official"” so the distinction between “official” and “personal” is obviously already acknowledged and in place.

I have made several complaints about this with particular regard to these BBC guidelines. I received an email from Leanne Bennett (CAS-1235418-P7G2F1 20/01/12 05:55) that said “However, if you believe a serious and specific breach of the BBC's Editorial Guidelines has occurred and you wish to pursue this complaint further, you can contact the BBC's Editorial Complaints Unit … and they will carry out an independent investigation.”. I took up this invitation, only to be told by Fraser Steel of the ECU: “I should also take the opportunity of rectifying an error; as your complaint doesn't relate to a matter of editorial standards in an item broadcast or published by the BBC, it doesn't fall within the remit of this Unit. The issue it raises is a matter for the management of BBC Audio & Music, and accordingly I have forwarded your message to them.”. This means, of course, that BBC Complaints wasted my time by giving me erroneous information. And needless to say, I have not had a response from BBC Audio & Music.

A typical response from BBC Complaints to other complaints on this issue would be (Terry Hughes CAS-1226295-676LCP 09/01/12 08:25) “I understand you are unhappy at being blocked from Jeremy Vine's Twitter feed. However, the Twitter account in question is a personal account and it is neither officially linked to, nor does it represent the views of, the BBC.”.

Let us look at that second sentence in more detail…

the Twitter account in question is a personal account

It is true that Mr Vine’s Twitter page used to say “All views personal of course” in the heading, but he has changed this recently to read “All views are my mum’s”:

Note that the heading also gives a link to his personal BBC presenter web page.

In earlier correspondence I cited the example of Vanessa Feltz who has two Twitter accounts: one for her personal life and another for her BBC broadcasts. I consider this to be an admirable way of dealing with Twitter and wished that other BBC presenters did the same.

Mr Vine already has two BBC email addresses (personal, and for his programme so the concept of separation will not be unknown to him.

Mr Vine uses his Twitter account to regale his followers with the latest football scores, his experiences of being a cyclist in London, what music he is listening to, etc., in which, and quite frankly, I have absolutely no interest. However, I would like the ability to interact with his Radio 2 programme in the same way that other listeners can and with the ease that Twitter provides. At present, this is being denied to me.

“it is neither officially linked to the BBC”

I do not understand how these words can possibly be true.

Mr Vine frequently promotes the use of Twitter before and during his programme, and on his web page. His stock phrase is “… and you can follow me on Twitter at @theJeremyVine …”. These invitations are many and I recently counted three in the first 40 minutes of the programme.

Mr Vine has also on occasions posted a photo of his radio programme script on Twitter for all to see, such as this one which related to one of my other complaints (number 13 in Ms Rose’s letter):

I am at a complete loss to understand how such a major part of the audience interaction on which Mr Vine’s programme depends cannot be “officially linked” to the BBC. In my view it is absolutely linked to the BBC and the production of this programme. That a multi-billion pound monopoly broadcaster such as the BBC does not understand the difference between the personal and broadcast views of its staff is, in my opinion, absolutely incredulous.

If you grant my appeal and my Twitter account remains blocked I do not promise that I will cease to complain about Mr Vine’s unfair use of Twitter in the future. Forgetting the specifics concerning Mr Vine for a moment, I feel that this is a major issue for the BBC and one that needs to be addressed. I will continue to press for a change in the way that the BBC learns to cope with this particular social media facility and continues to shirk its obvious responsibilities.

I respectfully request that my complaints are no longer subject to the expedited complaints handling procedure and that normal handling of any complaints I may wish to make (and subject to the undertakings given above) about Mr Vine’s programme is reinstated immediately.

Thank you for taking the time to read and consider this letter, and please feel free to contact me should you require any further information.

I look forward to receiving your response at your earliest convenience.


Anonymous said...

More power to you.

' those complaints that refer to factually incorrect, speculative or biased reporting, but Ms Rose has chosen to ignore those from her categorisation.'

A classic ruse. And one used with me too. This is why such things need airing and exposing, despite their 'you mustn't tell anyone' t&c snuck in at the bottom, that one apparently agrees to by responding.

I always reject that one as a ps.

'I have read several sets of BBC guidelines on the use of Twitter, and they make no mention of blocking followers and when and why this may occur.'

They have just closed down the Newsnight blog and directed the licence fee paying audience to either twitter or FaceBook, two US-based, for profit, agenda-heaving organisations.

I am intrigued as to how, if on pain of fine or jail one HAS to pay the fee, BBC employees or programmes can see fit to ban or block anyone. At least without a darn good, public, non-FoI protected reason.

'doesn't fall within the remit of this Unit.'

That we have but one means into the complaints system, but they seem to have scores of contradictory ones within it, all designed to inspire 'not me, gov' excuses, this is especially risible.

Mr. Vine, many colleagues, and his facile defenders within the BBC excuse system, are of course full of it. Ladling BBC brand references and URLs whilst claiming its nothing to do with the BBC is a conceit few in the public sector would get away with for long.

'it is neither officially linked to the BBC”'
I do not understand how these words can possibly be true.'

The BBC relationship with truth is as unique as much else.

You have them in the headlights of factual accuracy, and they are bare-faced saying black is white.

Stonyground said...

As long as the Beeb are funded by their legal protection racket, they only have to go through the motions of pretending to be interested in customers' complaints. If they actually had to compete for customers in a free market they would be very keen to respond to complaints and adapt accordingly. If the BBC's output was encrypted and you had to sign up to receive it, how many people would do so? I certainly wouldn't.

Anonymous said...

Stonyground - 'funded by their legal protection racket'

I mentioned FoI.

It has come to my attention that they may be able to also place how they handle complaints under this, presumably for the same reasons they offer in preserving journalistic integrity.

This means that, no matter what pretend internal machinations lead to such as LTL's 'expediting', or subsequent appeal deliberations, NO ONE outside the BBC can ever get to see them, and especially the person being punished, whilst still required to pay for the duration of the sentence.

And I think we know what that is most likely to be. I have not yet had an appeal from any BBC body that does not start 'After a lengthy investigation, I am sorry to say that...'.

It makes North Korea seem like a beacon of human rights and justice.

Radio2LunchtimeLoather said...

On several occasions I have tried to get information about complaints under FoI and this information has been refused on every occasion.

My most recent FoI attempt was to get audience listening figures for each daytime R2 programme and they refused to supply this too, even though RAJAR could provide for a fee. A subsequent request for these numbers just as a percentage (i.e. call the Ken Bruce show 100%, how do other shows compare) was also refused.

Anonymous said...

You have too much time on your hands!