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FOI response - BBC (Read 99,430 times)
derrick
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Re: FOI request to BBC & response
Reply #15 - Aug 2nd, 2006 at 1:29pm
 
The most common criticism is that 0870 numbers have become unjustifiably relatively expensive for callers, as BT and other telephone networks have introduced packages that allow cheap ‘long distance’ calls for as little as 1p/minute and include ‘free minutes’. These packages are taken up by increasing numbers of people but they exclude special numbers such as 0870 and 0845 which have therefore become relatively expensive at up to almost 8p/minute peak time.
A second criticism very strongly expressed by some individuals and lobby groups is that revenue sharing is wrong in principle because it is a kind of ‘premium rate’ service where companies using 0870 can receive a payment from the telephone network of about 1p/minute and this can reward companies who keep callers hanging on thus earning more revenue.
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A general criticism of 0870 and other special numbers is the lack of transparency – although most people understand that 0800 means a ‘free call’ most consumers do not understand the difference between the various special numbers and premium rate services or what they cost. Unlike premium rate numbers there is no obligation to state the cost of calling 0870 and 0845 numbers.
Another, though less common criticism is that international access can be difficult for our overseas audience because some overseas telephone networks cannot connect to a UK 0870 number because of commercial or technical reasons.
Some have criticised BBC consumer programmes for being hypocritical in apparently publicising heavily the ‘say no to 0870’ campaign to encourage government departments, public and commercial organisations to drop 0870 in favour of geographic numbers such as those beginning 0207 (London) 0141 (Glasgow) etc or at least to give people a choice and to publish information on call costs.
However, more important than the relatively low cost of calling the BBC is whether the BBC is providing value to its audience. There are very few complaints about the mass access telephone systems or the freephone helplines and for normal business, BBC Information achieves very high rates of customer satisfaction independently measured by MORI with 87% rating the service 8 or more out of 10.
FUTURE CHANGES
In 2004 Ofcom launched a review of 0870 and 0845 and BBC has welcomed Ofcom’s proposals to reduce prices and improve price information. Ofcom’s own research indicated that most people thought that 0870 costs were higher than they actually are and confuse them with 090 premium rate numbers. Ofcom have now published their decision that ‘revenue share’ will end and that the link between 0870 and ‘geographic numbers’ restored. This is expected to reduce the cost of calling 0870 numbers from a maximum of 8p per minute to around 3p per minute. This may take until 2008 to implement.
The BBC has already changed the way it describes the cost of 0870 calls. In print and on the ‘contact us’ and other websites we say “calls from a BT line cost up to 8p per minute (some operators and mobiles vary) and may be recorded for training”
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
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1. If the BBC does not make any money from 0870 does it get any other benefits?
Yes. 0870 numbers bring some technology and operational benefits for the BBC and callers and also in return for waiving the ‘revenue share’ from 0870 calls the telephone networks supply the BBC with a higher level of service which would otherwise cost the licence fee payer more to provide. The value of these saved costs is significantly more that the value of the revenue share foregone.
2. If the BBC wants to be accountable and open to the audience why not use 0800 numbers for everything so callers could call for free like sending emails?
The problem with 0800 numbers is that they attract a lot of nuisance or trivial calls. Extending the 0800 numbers beyond the existing use for helplines would waste licence fee money, increase the staff frustration in dealing with time-wasting calls particularly at night and probably produce an overall reduction in quality of service as genuine callers found it more difficult to get through.
3. Why not replace 0870 with geographic numbers like 0141 or 0207 etc so callers could ring for free or very cheaply under call discount plans?
We decided against that in 1998 when the Governors approved the use of 0870 numbers because they are fairer – everyone pays the same regardless of where they live. The 0870 numbers also bring some technology and operational advantages such as being able to redirect calls. The BBC has welcomed Ofcom’s proposals to cut the cost of 0870 calls and improve information so we expect it will become cheaper to call the BBC.
4. If the BBC is not making money from callers why does the BBC spend licence fee money on subsidising and answering calls rather than moving completely to online services?
The audience should have the choice of whether to call, write or click on-line. The BBC is however increasingly using simple-to-use technology to allow self service when ordering tickets or booklets e.g. when over 300,000 viewers requested a Springwatch pack and their requests were handled online and through automated 0870 telephone services. The new BBC complaints service does include a special on-line system for people to send in email complaints if they prefer to write rather than call.
Michael Stock
Business and Partnerships Manager
Marketing, Communications & Audiences
March 2006
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derrick
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Re: FOI request to BBC & response
Reply #16 - Aug 2nd, 2006 at 1:31pm
 
Obviously I will ask for an internal review, which will be turned down,I will then forward it to the IC who If they ever get round to it will probably refuse anyway.
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derrick
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Re: FOI response - BBC
Reply #17 - Aug 3rd, 2006 at 12:41pm
 
Just thought I would bump this up as it has been buried on page 3??
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derrick
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Re: FOI response - BBC
Reply #18 - Aug 8th, 2006 at 1:34pm
 
Received the follwing e-mail:-

Dear

We have received your request for an internal review relating to our decision to withhold the underlying geographic numbers to which our 0870 numbers deliver under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Your request for an internal review was received on 3 August 2006.  We shall deal with the review as promptly as possible and, at the latest, within 30 working days.  If you have any queries please contact us at the address below.

The reference number for your internal review is IR20060*****. 

Yours sincerely

Fern Kersey

Information Policy and Compliance
BBC Freedom of Information
PO Box 48339
London W12 7XH, UK 

Website: www.bbc.co.uk/foi/
Email: mailto:foi@bbc.co.uk
Tel: 020 8008 2883
Fax: 020 8008 2398



6 weeks to do an internal review?? and I bet I know the outcome Grin
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derrick
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Re: FOI response - BBC
Reply #19 - Sep 12th, 2006 at 2:36pm
 
OK, I have received the response to my request for an internal review, and guess what? the upheld the decision to not release the geo numbers. their reasons follow in the next post.

With a view to the last paragraph,(in red), do you think this means that the BBC will continue to use these numbers when there is no revenue share on them? Grin Grin Grin

Looks like I will have to now put it in the hands of the ICO, for what use they are?!
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« Last Edit: Sep 12th, 2006 at 2:39pm by derrick »  
 
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derrick
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Re: FOI response - BBC
Reply #20 - Sep 12th, 2006 at 2:38pm
 
Freedom of Information Internal Review Decision
Internal Reviewer: Mike Lewis, Senior Rights Negotiator
Reference: IR200600**** (RFI200600****)
Date: 7 September 2006
Original Request:
The requester Mr *  ****** asked a series of questions about the BBC’s use of 0870 numbers.
Issues on Review:
Whether the BBC was correct in refusing to release a list of the underlying geographic telephone numbers associated with its 0870 services on the grounds that would result in commercial harm to both the BBC and Capita, who have the contract to provide the “BBC Information” contact centre services that use 0870 numbers. The information was withheld under s.43(2).
Decision:
I have read all of the correspondence on file and have been in contact with both the BBC’s Marketing, Communications and Audiences Division (MC&A), who are in charge of this area and Capita.
The BBC’s decision to withhold the underlying geographic numbers was made under section 43(2) of the Freedom of Information Act (commercial interests), for three reasons:
     • that releasing the information would create an operational risk with the telephone switch being potentially compromised by lobby groups choosing to “attack” the switch by calling directly thus circumventing all the protection offered by C&W’s Call Plans, which permit Capita to balance the call volumes received across the switch depending on forecast call volumes per number or campaign. The BBC contends that in this way Capita are able to ensure that the maximum number of callers can get through across all live numbers
     • that Capita rely on the ability to report on traffic across non-geographic numbers to manage Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) with the BBC
     • that Capita’s Reserve Plans allow them to deal with unplanned surges of telephone calls by using pre-recorded messages and that this service would not be able to function for calls delivered directly to geographic numbers, again making it more difficult for them to manage SLA’s.


In summary the BBC contends that both it and Capita would suffer commercial harm if the numbers were released with Capita less able to deliver to the BBC and the BBC therefore receiving a lower quality service for the licence fee payer. From this follows the BBC view that there is no public interest in disclosing the underlying geographic numbers but there is a public interest in Capita managing call volumes efficiently on behalf of the BBC and therefore the exemption should be maintained.
My view is that the use of 0870 numbers is of significant benefit to licence fee payers as a whole and that the BBC and Capita would suffer commercial harm if the geographic numbers were released. I therefore believe the exemption under section 43(2) of the Act does apply in this case and I am upholding the original decision.
It is the case however that the Office of Communications (Ofcom) has recently announced its policy decision on this subject following a review and it has said that revenue sharing between telcos and companies using 0870 numbers should cease and that the price should come down from next year from the 8ppm maximum to 3ppm, which is equivalent to the national geographic rate. Hopefully this will prevent further complaints about the use of 0870 numbers
Mike Lewis

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derrick
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Re: FOI response - BBC
Reply #21 - Sep 12th, 2006 at 2:41pm
 
From the e-mail, the above post was the attachment.

Dear Mr ******,

Please find attached the internal review decision note that relates to your FOI request (reference RFI20****). You will see that the original decision has been upheld in this case. If you wish to appeal to the Information Commissioner full details are available on their website: http://www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk/

<<IR20060***** - IR decision note.pdf>>

Yours sincerely,

James Leaton Gray
Head of Information Policy & Compliance
BBC Freedom of Information
MC3D1, Media Centre,
201 Wood Lane,
London W12 7TQ, UK

Website: www.bbc.co.uk/foi/
Email: mailto:foi@bbc.co.uk
Tel: 0208 008 2883
Fax: 0208 008 2398

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« Last Edit: Sep 12th, 2006 at 2:44pm by derrick »  
 
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Heinz
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Re: FOI response - BBC
Reply #22 - Sep 12th, 2006 at 4:14pm
 
derrick wrote on Sep 12th, 2006 at 2:36pm:
With a view to the last paragraph,(in red), do you think this means that the BBC will continue to use these numbers when there is no revenue share on them?

I'd say it's a fairly safe bet they'll change to 5p/minute 0844 or, more likely, 10p/minute 0871 numbers well before then.
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« Last Edit: Sep 12th, 2006 at 4:15pm by Heinz »  

After years of ignoring govt. guidelines & RIPPING OFF Council Tax payers using 0845 numbers, Essex County Council changed to 0345 numbers on 2 November 2015
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derrick
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Re: FOI response - BBC
Reply #23 - Sep 12th, 2006 at 4:22pm
 
Heinz wrote on Sep 12th, 2006 at 4:14pm:
derrick wrote on Sep 12th, 2006 at 2:36pm:
With a view to the last paragraph,(in red), do you think this means that the BBC will continue to use these numbers when there is no revenue share on them?

I'd say it's a fairly safe bet they'll change to 5p/minute 0844 or, more likely, 10p/minute 0871 numbers well before then.


Ye, that is what I thought, hence why I put the cheesy grins after the ?
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Re: FOI response - BBC
Reply #24 - Sep 13th, 2006 at 12:07am
 
My view, for what it's worth, is that the real winners in the equation are the companies that bid for the '0870 management contract' or whatever they choose to call it.  Because these companies are basically justifying their jobs, and no doubt the variety of excuses you hear are provided at the first by them.  After all, they have a lot to lose, it's a big contract, and somebody's got to pay for it - that'll be you. 

The statements that imply that 'nobody makes any money by doing this' are preposterous.  Somebody's making money out of it by definition; we are all paying 8p per minute for the priviledge.  Do we naively believe that it's just BT who are making profit here?  No of course, Capita are making profit.  Simply put, they wouldn't be in business if they weren't. 

I have no doubt it IS easier for the BBC if another company is managing the calls, and outsourcing is commonplace in industry.  It does sometimes result in an overall reduction in cost, but my question is this.  Who is paying it?  And do we agree with the methods through which we are paying for it?  Should this not be included in the licence fee? 

What annoys me more than anything else is this "concern for the unfairness" excuse relating to someone across the country having to pay for a National Rate when those living closer get a Local Rate.  This used to be the case before the telecoms industry was opened up and do the BBC really believe the population they serve have so little idea?  There's been a mobile revolution folks! 

Everybody knows about the free calls packages because BT aggressively market them every time they send out post. We all know we can get free calls across the country therefore making a "national rate" a FREE Rate or VERY CHEAP rate.  And I'm sure if they had a box on the license fee slip that said "do you want calls starting 01.... or 0870 which would you prefer?"  You'd get 98% of people preferring the 01... number.  It very much is in the public interest, if not in the public consciousness, and they're hoping we won't notice.
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« Last Edit: Sep 13th, 2006 at 12:08am by wacs »  
 
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derrick
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Re: FOI response - BBC
Reply #25 - Sep 20th, 2006 at 12:00pm
 
Just received the following e-mail:-


20th September 2006

Case Reference Number FS501*****


Dear Mr ******


Your information request to the BBC.

Thank you for your correspondence dated 14th September 2006 in which you make a complaint about the BBC's decision not to release the information you requested. 


Your case has been allocated to one of our case resolution teams who will contact you as soon as possible to explain how your case will be progressed. Due to the volume of complaints we are receiving at present it may be several months before you hear from us.


If you need to contact us about any aspect of your complaint about the BBC please contact our Freedom of Information Helpline on 01625 545745 being sure to quote the reference number at the top of this letter. 


Yours sincerely,


Sent on behalf of

Mr Paul Arnold

Head of Customer Service

FoI Case Reception Unit

The Information Commissioner's Office



So no answer anytime soon then??

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Re: FOI response - BBC
Reply #26 - Sep 20th, 2006 at 6:34pm
 
Derrick,

I personally don't think you'll get anywhere but anyhow you could try including a link to Ofcom's press-release about 0870 numbers and 0870 use by public bodies:-
Quote:
Ofcom continues to recommend that public bodies should not use NTS numbers exclusively (ie: without giving equal prominence to a geographic alternative) especially when dealing with people on low incomes or other vulnerable groups.

This is because the IC, in their public interest test, will need to be aware that these costs are extensive and upto 40p/min from a mobile and some gov departments actually make money from the calls, and that Ofcom does not recommend public bodies use NTS numbers without a geographical number.

Obviously by using 0870 numbers BBC are making themselves in some cases unreachable due to the excessive cost of these calls and not everyone has internet access to email them.
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derrick
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Re: FOI response - BBC
Reply #27 - Sep 21st, 2006 at 9:49am
 
bbb_uk wrote on Sep 20th, 2006 at 6:34pm:
Derrick,

I personally don't think you'll get anywhere but anyhow you could try including a link to Ofcom's press-release about 0870 numbers and 0870 use by public bodies:-
Quote:
Ofcom continues to recommend that public bodies should not use NTS numbers exclusively (ie: without giving equal prominence to a geographic alternative) especially when dealing with people on low incomes or other vulnerable groups.

This is because the IC, in their public interest test, will need to be aware that these costs are extensive and upto 40p/min from a mobile and some gov departments actually make money from the calls, and that Ofcom does not recommend public bodies use NTS numbers without a geographical number.

Obviously by using 0870 numbers BBC are making themselves in some cases unreachable due to the excessive cost of these calls and not everyone has internet access to email them.



That has already been mentioned in  e-mail correspondence with the BBC and all e-mail correspondence has been forwarded to the ICO, as has the cost of calling from mobiles and payphones.


The reply below was sent to me in an e-mail to me dated 2nd August 2006, that was in reply to my e-mail to them dated 24th July 2006.

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.
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Heinz
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Re: FOI response - BBC
Reply #28 - Sep 21st, 2006 at 10:37am
 
Despite cleverly avoiding the use of Ofcom's phrase, that reply indicates that the BBC considers itself not to be a 'public body'.

But, as BBC wages are paid for from the licence fees the public is required to pay, it follows that the BBC is a public body.

They're going to continue to hide behind semantics (they've had ten years of training from the experts in that - their political masters).
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« Last Edit: Sep 21st, 2006 at 10:39am by Heinz »  

After years of ignoring govt. guidelines & RIPPING OFF Council Tax payers using 0845 numbers, Essex County Council changed to 0345 numbers on 2 November 2015
WWW  
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derrick
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Re: FOI response - BBC
Reply #29 - Sep 21st, 2006 at 10:43am
 
Heinz wrote on Sep 21st, 2006 at 10:37am:
Despite cleverly avoiding the use of Ofcom's phrase, that reply indicates that the BBC considers itself not to be a 'public body'.

But, as BBC wages are paid for from the licence fees the public is required to pay, it follows that the BBC is a public body.

They're going to continue to hide behind semantics (they've had ten years of training from the experts in that - their political masters).


A point I have made to them
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