Feeds

Beeb ordered to release TV licensing contract sweeteners

Capita deal under scrutiny

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
Lawyers mobilise angry mob against Apple over alleged 2011 Macbook Pro crapness
We suffered 'random bouts of graphical distortion' - fanbois
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
Verizon bankrolls tech news site, bans tech's biggest stories
No agenda here. Just don't ever mention Net neutrality or spying, ok?
Inside the EYE of the TORnado: From Navy spooks to Silk Road
It's hard enough to peel the onion, are you hard enough to eat the core?
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.