THE BBC won’t tell the Sentinel how much it costs in travel and expenses to send Northern Ireland sports reporters outside the province to cover events.
The BBC’s corporate affairs boss in Northern Ireland, Mark Adair, told the Sentinel the broadcaster will not be voluntarily waiving its statutory right to withold ‘a full itemised list of BBC NI sports reporters travel expenses and allowances for covering sports events outside NI for the past three years.’
The BBC had earlier refused to tell the Sentinel how much it costs to send its reporters overseas or across the border to cover sporting events outside Northern Ireland.
The Sentinel wanted to inform its readers how much it costs to pay for travel and expenses for sports reporters to cover the big events they love outside Northern Ireland.
Thus the paper asked for a full itemised list of BBC NI sports reporters’ travel expenses and allowances for covering sports events outside NI for the past three years under an FOI request.
The broadcaster responded: “The information that you have requested is excluded from the Act because it is held for the purposes of ‘journalism, art or literature.”
After the rebuttal the Sentinel appealed to the broadcaster to waive its rights under the exemption and to provide the information in the interest of openness and informing the public.
But Mr Adair told the paper: “The BBC considers that the derogation under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, which applies to the BBC and other public service broadcasters, protects the journalistic, artistic and literary integrity of our output.
“We will, therefore, not be voluntarily waiving our statutory right, as supported by a Supreme Court decision, not to disclose the information which you have requested.
“As stated in our original response, the BBC does not offer an internal review when the information requested is not covered by the Act. If you disagree with our decision you can, of course, make an appeal to the Information Commissioner.
“For ease of reference, the Commissioner’s contact details are: Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF telephone 01625 545 700. http://www.ico.gov.uk.”