Feeds

Beeb ordered to release TV licensing contract sweeteners

Capita deal under scrutiny

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

The BBC is to be forced to reveal secret sweeteners contained in its licence fee collection deal with Capita within five weeks.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) today gave the corporation a 35-day deadline to disclose the incentives written into the contract.

BBC bosses had previously refused requests for the detail under the Freedom of Information Act, claiming disclosure was not in the public interest because it could damage their negotiating position in future.

Public bodies frequently cite this exemption when refusing to release contract details. But the ICO said the public interest outweighed such concerns in this case.

"As the UK's largest independent public broadcaster, the BBC must ensure that they are as open as possible to the UK licence payers they serve," said head of policy delivery Steve Wood.

"On this occasion, the BBC incorrectly applied an exemption under the belief that it was not in the public interest for the corporation to release details of the incentives they offer to one of their contractors.

"However it is our view that the corporation must be open to public scrutiny in order to show the many people who regularly watch their programmes, listen to their radio stations and use their website that they continue to provide value for money."

A BBC spokeswoman told The Register: "We note the ICO's decision and are considering our response."

Capita has held the TV licensing contract since 2002, when it took over from the Post Office.

Last year it collected £3.4bn and on its website it boasts it has reduced the rate of TV licence evasion from 5.7 per cent to 5.1 per cent.

The Freedom of Information Act is proving an irritant to the BBC. Under pressure from campaigners, last year it began publishing the pay and expenses of top executives and stars. The data revealed lavish spending on taxis and other apparent profligacy, which has provided ammunition for the corporation's enemies.

Some details of the licensing operation remain secret though. In 2008, the ICO sided with the BBC when it said the workings of its famous "detector vans" should remain shrouded in mystery. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
Amazon says Hachette should lower ebook prices, pay authors more
Oh yeah ... and a 30% cut for Amazon to seal the deal
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off
Cellphone baseband device biz shuttered
Feel free to BONK on the TUBE, says Transport for London
Plus: Almost NOBODY uses pay-by-bonk on buses - Visa
Nintend-OH NO! Sorry, Mario – your profits are in another castle
Red-hatted mascot, red-colored logo, red-stained finance books
Twitch rich as Google flicks $1bn hitch switch, claims snitch
Gameplay streaming biz and search king refuse to deny fresh gobble rumors
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.