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FOI response - BBC (Read 96,909 times)
idb
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FOI response - BBC
May 23rd, 2005 at 6:42pm
 
Thank you for your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 ("the Act") dated 19 April 2005, seeking the following information:

[...]

To give you some background on how 0870 numbers are managed by the BBC I should explain that the BBC has contracted Capita Business Services Ltd ('Capita') to provide the BBC Information contact centre services that use 0870 numbers. Capita in turn purchases telecoms services from Cable & Wireless ('C&W') to deliver calls to the contact centres. Therefore the contract to supply is between Capita and C&W.

We are withholding the list of underlying geographic numbers to which our 0870 numbers deliver under section 43(2) (commercial interests), and I set out below our reasons for this.

Releasing the information would create an operational risk; the telephone switch would be compromised. This could be in the form of a lobby group choosing to 'attack' the switch by calling directly and thus circumventing all the protection offered by C&W's Call Plans. Capita uses over 50 different numbers, a handful are in use continually, the rest are used for brief periods in support of specific campaigns, e.g. ticket requests for the VE-day concert. The Call Plans permit Capita to balance the call volumes received across the switch depending on forecast call volumes per number or campaign. In this way Capita are able to ensure that the absolute maximum number of callers can get through across all live numbers.

Capita rely on the ability to report on traffic across non-geographic numbers to manage Service Level agreements (SLA). If callers used geographic numbers Capita could not report accurately on call volumes; no reliable statistics would be available, making it immensely difficult for Capita to manage the contract with the BBC.

Capita's Reserve Plans (that include network Interactive Voice Responses) allow them to deal with unplanned surges of telephone calls by using pre-recorded messages. This service would not be able to function for calls delivered directly to geographic numbers - again making it more difficult for Capita to manage the services within SLA.

The three reasons above mean that both Capita and the BBC would suffer commercial harm if the numbers were released; Capita would be less able to deliver to the BBC and the BBC would receive a lower quality of service for the license fee payer.

Neither the BBC nor Capita receives any money from C&W by way of revenue-share for the traffic on the BBC's 0870 numbers. Instead the BBC and Capita receive a higher quality of support from C&W. C&W also commits additional resources to support in order to provide a faster, more-responsive service that is subject to shorter times for turnaround of requests for change. In turn this means that the BBC (and Capita working on behalf of the BBC) are able to respond quickly to changes in call traffic as a result of changing national and international events. Also these are not regarded by Ofcom or telecommunications providers as 'premium rate' numbers. They are 'national rate' numbers. Premium rate numbers begin with 09.

We have not been able to identify any public interest in disclosing the underlying geographic numbers used by the BBC. I am satisfied, in terms of section 2 of the Act, that in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.

[...]

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PeDaSp
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Re: FOI response - BBC
Reply #1 - May 23rd, 2005 at 6:59pm
 
This site is REALLY starting to work well - you can tell this from the BBC reply above - drawn up by lawyers I reckon.

There are some serious issues here - and I hope that someone with legal training on this site can get their teeth into this an mount an appeal etc... Otherwise we could find other government departments using this defense.

There are a number of factual inaccuracies to say the least:

"If callers used geographic numbers Capita could not report accurately on call volumes"

- this is rubbish as far as I'm aware.

"Also these are not regarded by Ofcom or telecommunications providers as 'premium rate' numbers. They are 'national rate' numbers"

- ho hum - that 'ol story. Point them to the BT webpage!

It might also be pointed out that the BBC watchdog site has a daft long disclaimer about the cost etc... of using their 0870 number. Why don't the BBC use this same disclaimer everywhere they list their 0870 numbers?   

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Martin_S
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Re: FOI response - BBC
Reply #2 - May 23rd, 2005 at 8:40pm
 
They do have a bit of a point about call volumes. In the old days radio 1 was an London 071 number and calling it for competitions led to an engaged tone most of the time. Well the answer to that is for the BBC to do away with Capita and manage the calls themselves. Or do what radio 2 do and still have a third party manage the calls but use an 0800 number for all BBC numbers. This way everybody is happy. I think they know that radio 2 listeners wouldn't stand for 0870 whereas radio 1's listeners are from a rip off generation and don't give a monkeys.
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« Last Edit: May 23rd, 2005 at 8:42pm by Martin_S »  
 
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lompos
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Re: FOI response - BBC
Reply #3 - May 23rd, 2005 at 9:23pm
 
Quote:
We have not been able to identify any public interest in disclosing the underlying geographic numbers used by the BBC.


The mind boggles.  No public interest?
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Martin_S
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Re: FOI response - BBC
Reply #4 - May 23rd, 2005 at 9:36pm
 
Studying this more:

"The three reasons above mean that both Capita and the BBC would suffer commercial harm if the numbers were released; Capita would be less able to deliver to the BBC and the BBC would receive a lower quality of service for the license fee payer. "

Commerical harm to the BBC? Thats rubbish. Never mind about Capita because we do not pay our licence fee to them. Perhaps we should argue that we are entitled to a free or geographical number because we have already paid enough money via the licence fee, therefore the BBC are unjustified to indirectly charge us any more to call them. It is not relevant that the BBC do not keep any call revenue, and that they spend it on Capita's management services, these costs if needed should come out of the licence free already.

"We have not been able to identify any public interest in disclosing the underlying geographic numbers used by the BBC."

But there is public interest for reasons stated above, ie cost of calling them.

"I am satisfied, in terms of section 2 of the Act, that in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information."

They are talking about our public interest in their call management services being paid for BY US as being more important to US than us calling them at local rate. This is again, total rubbish.




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mmmmmm
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Re: FOI response - BBC
Reply #5 - May 24th, 2005 at 3:44pm
 
Quote:
Never mind about Capita because we do not pay our licence fee to them.


Well, actually we do!

http://www.capita.co.uk/Group/MediaCentre/PressReleases/PressReleaseArchive/BBCs...

Wink
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Re: FOI response - BBC
Reply #6 - Jul 5th, 2005 at 1:39pm
 
Reply from the BBC in response to a request for internal review.

>>>

Original Request: To provide a list of underlying geographic equivalent numbers for all BBC services that currently terminate on 0870 numbers

Issues on review: The application of s.43(2) of the FOI Act.

Decision
My view is that s.43(2) of the FOI Act does apply.

Reasons for decision
There are compelling reasons why the 0870 telephone service is more advantageous to licence fee payers and to the BBC and its contractors:- 1. Calls can be managed more flexibly and efficiently (especially peaks and troughs in demand) 2. The use of pre-recorded messages and Interactive Voice Responses aids better communication, and 2. Sophisticated statistical reporting allows BBC partners such as Capita and Siemens and their subcontractors to deliver services according to contractual Agreements. The BBC and its contractors would, therefore, suffer commercial harm if the geographic numbers which underpin the 0870 system were released. For this reason, we are withholding this information under s.43(2) (commercial interests). In addition, the use of 0870 numbers offers equal access to all licence fee payers wishing to use the numbers in the UK. Because the service is more efficient, it also offers the best value for money. The use of geographic numbers would deny UK audiences these advantages. It is worth restating that the BBC’s international services (BBC World Service, BBC World and BBC Prime) offer overseas audiences the use of geographic numbers
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Re: FOI response - BBC
Reply #7 - Jul 5th, 2005 at 3:04pm
 
If what the BBC say is true, then people living abroad must be getting a very poor service when calling the BBC.  Think of all those calls that don't get answered etc!!

After all, as they state, offering a service on a geographical number leads to such a bad deterioration in service, it could cause harm to the BBC!!

How about doing a survey with people who call the BBC from abroad using geographic numbers, and ask them whether they get a good service on the phone.  If it's no different to the 0870 service UK customers call, then maybe they should think about giving licence fee payers better value for money and allow us to use our cheap landlines call packages to call them.
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I realy hait itt wen peeple canot spel proply. Itt getts onn mye nervs sew mutch annd streses mee owt. Knot onley iz itt vary bade speling butt allso bade gramer.
 
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Re: FOI response - BBC
Reply #8 - Jul 5th, 2005 at 5:40pm
 
The point no one seems to have raised yet is that if as it is claimed neither the BBC nor Capita receive the premiums, who gets them?

My guess is that some of this revenue flows back to both Capita and the BBC as some sort of "fee", and that is what they really mean by "commercial interests". It sure would harm their "commercial interests". They would loose this revenue!!!

As for the claim that these numbers are "National Rate" numbers and that they are not premium numbers, well the lies and the smoke and mirror attempts just continue and multiply like Pinnochio's nose!
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Ofcom are completely ineffectual
 
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Re: FOI response - BBC
Reply #9 - Jul 5th, 2005 at 5:43pm
 
Quote:
My guess is that some of this revenue flows back to both Capita and the BBC as some sort of "fee", and that is what they really mean by "commercial interests". It sure would harm their "commercial interests". They would loose this revenue!!!

That would be the same 'revenue' which NHS surgeries do not receive, which goes towards paying NEG and other 'providers' for their 'service'. See Department of Health (DH) FOI Response.
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Re: FOI response - BBC
Reply #10 - Jul 6th, 2005 at 10:45am
 
ok threaten to take this to the Information Comissioner now.

I recon theyll release the info before the IC decides.
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Re: FOI response - BBC
Reply #11 - Aug 24th, 2005 at 9:53pm
 
Just had an internal review refused again.

Looks like im off to the Info Comissioner under section 50.
-I put in another request for all information relating to the tender of the 0870 numbers.
I today recived a 2.8MB email back full of PDF's, as I cannot highlight the text on them (crafty BBC) I will upload them to my website and let people view them, themselves.

The interesting thing I noted, was capita was invited back in 1998 when john birt was DG to do the 0870's.
Even Capitas own 'bid' claims that the 0870 are charged at one 'national' rate!!!
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FOI request to BBC & response
Reply #12 - Aug 2nd, 2006 at 1:20pm
 
I asked the BBC to supply ALL geo numbers relating to 0870 and the response follows:


BritishBroadcastingCorporationMC301.MediaCentre.MediaVillage.201 Wood Lane. London. W 12 7TQ
Telephone 020 8008 2883 Fax 020 8008 2398 Email foi@bbc.co.uk
Information Policy and Compliance
bbc.co.uk/fol
Mr D

2 August 2006
Dear Mr
Freedom of information request - RF12006******
Thank you for your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 ("the Act")
dated 31 July 2006. BBC Information forwarded your email to me as I deal with
freedom of information requests received by the BBC.
You have asked a number of questions about the BBC's use of 0870 numbers that I
have provided responses to below. I also enclose an explanatory note that is
available on the BBC's Publication Scheme about the BBC's use of 0870, 0845,
0800, premium rate numbers and text messages. I hope that this document will
provide some answers to your questions and some additional information on the
subject.
You may also be aware that Ofcom have decided that in future 0870 calls must cost
the same as national calls to 01 and 02 numbers which will reduce the cost from
around 8p per minute to around 3p per minute. This price reduction is likely to come
in by the end of 2007.
1. Why do you use 0870 numbers?
Please see the attached explanatory note.
2. What is the equivalent geographical number of ALL your 0870 numbers
By way of background information, the BBC has contracted Capita Business
Services Ltd ('Capita') to provide the 'BBC Information' contact centre services that
use 0870 numbers. Capita in turn purchases telecoms services from Cable &
Wireless ('C&W) to deliver calls to the contact centres.
We are withholding the list of underlying geographic numbers to which our 0870
numbers deliver under section 43(2) (commercial interests) of the Act. I set out below
our reasons for this.
Releasing the information would create an operational risk; the telephone
switch would be compromised. This could be in the form of a lobby group choosing to
•attack' the switch by calling directly and thus circumventing all the protection offered
by C&W's Call Plans. Capita uses over 50 different numbers, a handful are in use
continually the rest are used for brief periods in support of specific campaigns, e.g.
ticket requests for concerts. The Call Plans permit Capita to balance the call
volumes received across the switch depending on forecast call volumes per number
or campaign. In this way Capita are able to ensure that the absolute maximum
number of callers can get through across all live numbers.
Capita rely on the ability to report on traffic across non-geographic numbers to
manage Service Level Agreements (SLA). If callers used geographic numbers
Capita could not report accurately on call volumes; no reliable statistics would be
available, making it immensely difficult for Capita to manage the contract with the
BBC.
Capita's Reserve Plans (that include network Interactive Voice Responses)
allow them to deal with unplanned surges of telephone calls by using pre-recorded
messages This service would not be able to function for calls delivered directly to
geographic numbers - again making it more difficult for Capita to manage the
services within SLA.
The three reasons above mean that both Capita and the BBC would suffer
commercial harm if the numbers were released; Capita would be less able to deliver
to the BBC and the BBC would receive a lower quality of service for the licence fee
payer.
Under section 2 of the Act I am required to weigh the public interest factors for and
against disclosure. There is no public interest in disclosing the underlying
geographical telephone numbers. Conversely, there is a public interest in Capita
managing call volumes efficiently on behalf of the BBC; therefore there is a public
interest in maintaining the exemption in this case.

3. What revenue do you receive per minute and in total from the use of 0870
numbers?
Neither the BBC nor Capita receives any money from C&W by way of revenue-share
for the traffic on the BBC's 0870 numbers. Instead the BBC and Capita receive a
higher quality of support from C&W. C&W commits additional resources to support in
order to provide a faster, more-responsive service that is subject to shorter times for
turnaround of requests for change. In turn this means that the BBC (and Capita
working on behalf of the BBC) are able to respond quickly to changes in call traffic as
a result of changing national and international events.
4. Are you aware of the revenue collected by your telecom provider, from your
callers?
0870 costs vary according to the telco provider and time of day and of course length
of call BT costs are up to 8p per minute during the day, 5p in the evening and 3p in
the weekend. However for 4 out of 5 callers to the BBC calls cost no more than 14p
and for 9 out of 10 less than 21 p.
5. Have you considered the revised COI guidelines? If so, what conclusions did you
come to?
Yes The COI guidance was prepared for central government departments and do
not apply to the BBC. The BBC is interested in what COI recommends and takes
their views into account.
6. Do you realise that all calls (local/national) cost the same?
We are aware of the cost of calls and indeed the fact that the costs are the same
from anywhere in the UK was seen as a benefit - namely the numbers provide equal
access from all over the UK.

contd......
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derrick
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Re: FOI request to BBC & response
Reply #13 - Aug 2nd, 2006 at 1:20pm
 
7. Are you aware of the cost implications to your callers, when using 0870 numbers?
Yes as noted above in question 4.


Appeal rights
If you are not satisfied with this response you have the right to an internal review by a
BBC senior manager. Please contact us at the address above, explaining what you
would like us to review and including your reference number. If you are not satisfied
with the internal review, you can appeal to the Information Commissioner. The
contact details are: Information Commissioner's Office, Wydiffe House, Water Lane.
Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF. telephone 01625 545 700 or see
[url=www. informationcommissioner.gov.uk]www. informationcommissioner.gov.uk[/url]
Yours sincerely.
^CCAJ<A(L
Liz Waite
Information Policy & Compliance
E


I have another pdf file that came as well, and I will try and get it onto the site.
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« Last Edit: Aug 2nd, 2006 at 1:21pm by derrick »  
 
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Re: FOI request to BBC & response
Reply #14 - Aug 2nd, 2006 at 1:27pm
 
THE USE OF 0870, 0845, 0800 & PREMIUM RATE TELEPHONE NUMBERS BY THE BBC
EXPLANATORY NOTE
BACKGROUND
John (later Lord) Reith said in 1924 that “Personally, I think it is worthwhile to deal carefully with programme correspondence … It all tends towards the establishment of some degree of confidence and intimacy between the broadcasting organisation and the public: and we know this to be of the highest importance”. Since then the BBC has welcomed contact with the audience, at first by letter, then telephone and later email and text messages and also face-to-face through tours, live shows and events.
The telephone is the most convenient for most of our audience who last year made around 2.6 million calls to the BBC on a variety of tariffs, mainly on 0870 but also on freephone 0800, 0845 and other numbers including some geographic numbers such as the Belfast, Cardiff and Glasgow and London switchboards. In addition around 19 million calls were made last year to premium rate 090 numbers, set up by BBC Worldwide’s Audiocall, to take part in votelines or competitions which often raise money for good causes.
WHY THE VARIETY OF TELEPHONE NUMBERS AND CHARGES?
Programme and Audience needs vary and using one number and tariff is not practicable so there are different systems, numbers and tariffs for four different kinds of services:
1. Mass access telephone response systems such as Strictly Come Dancing, generally use a premium rate 090 number which pays for the set-up, running costs and technology that ensures that the audience has an equal chance of getting through. Often premium rate systems are the only practical way to ensure that there is a robust system which can cope with millions of calls, fairly and accurately. Votes and competitions cost 15p or 25p per call. The BBC’s own editorial guidelines and the independent regulator ICSTIS have strict controls over the use of premium rate telephone numbers. The BBC’s guidelines prohibit it from aiming to make a profit from telephony – the BBC is unique amongst broadcasters in this. Therefore the BBC always seeks the lowest price for callers (the lowest tariff was recently raised by BT from 10p to 15p a call). The BBC only sets a higher tariff if the aim is specifically to raise money for charity and then seeks to return the biggest slice of the revenue to good causes. Half of every 25p charged for votes for Strictly Come Dancing went to Children in Need. This has proved an increasingly popular method of audience donation to good causes.
2. Normal business, where the BBC answers enquiries about programmes or services including booking tickets, or handles audience comments and complaints, The charging policy set by the BBC in1998 when approving the investment proposal in the Capita-run BBC Information service, was that a move from a geographic London number to a ‘national rate’ 0870 numbers would help contain demand and
1
help deter trivial calls. Paying the full cost of the call also meant that the caller was the same situation as a letter writer who has to pay for a stamp. Last year Cable and Wireless reported that 4 out of 5 callers to BBC paid 15p or less and 9 out of 10 less than 21p for their call, cheaper than a stamp. The other advantage of an 0870 number, rather than a geographical number, was that it did not imply the BBC was solely based in London, or any other one location. The BBC does not make any money for itself from audience phone calls or text messages.
3. Text messages e.g. to Radio 1 or 5Live.The BBC does not generate any revenue from text messages to the national radio networks. Messages are charged at network operator rates of 10 or 12p, which is the minimum we are able to charge on a short code, such at 81199. The majority of this goes to the network operator. A small amount (under 1p per message) goes to the third party commercial company responsible for aggregating the messages and supplying the infrastructure enabling
the BBC to receive them. In some cases, premium rate text services may be run in conjunction with charity based competitions e.g. Comic Relief. No money comes back to the BBC, and again we seek to ensure that a majority of the call cost goes to charity. In some cases the mobile operators also donate part of their profits to the charity.
4. Freephone Helplines providing further information or support following a programme that raises difficult or distressing issues such as the Hitting Home series or the organ DoNation project where over 60,000 viewers called and many of whom registered as organ donors. Because the BBC pays the cost, using a freephone 0800 number ensures that the call is confidential and does not appear on the caller’s phone bill. Freephone lines are also provided where the caller is helping other people, such as giving to approved charities on the Radio 4 Appeal or the Lifeline programme.
WHAT DOES THE AUDIENCE THINK OF THESE TELEPHONE CHARGES?
The BBC has used ‘special telephone numbers’ such as 0870, 0845 and 0800 for about a decade without any significant comment or criticism from the audience. However in the last year there has been a growing lobby against 0870 numbers. Many programmes including You and Yours, Watchdog, Money Box, Face the Facts, Newswatch and also BBC Information, Freedom of Information team and the Press Office have spent time dealing with five broad complaints.
contd.............
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