Complaint to BBC Sounds
5th December 2022
I sent the following complaint to the BBC on 3rd December 2022. The background to it is that BBC Sounds took a decision in early 2022 to delay providing podcasts of some programs to external providers by 28 days, meaning that if you wish to listen to these you have to use the BBC Sounds app.
Complaint sent 3rd December 2022
Today I listened to a podcast of Inside Science. It had some very interesting and useful information about an infectious disease, Monkepox, which included the theory that it may be infectious before symptoms start showing.
This is very important information for people who may be susceptible to infection, and the kind of info which could (in the case of other infectious diseases) actually save lives.
But I received this information a month later than I would have if listening on live radio or using the BBC Sounds app, because BBC Sounds decided earlier this year that they would delay freely supplying programmes by 28 days.
I do not believe this is acceptable from a public service broadcaster. There is no benefit to me as a licence payer in this decision. You force me to either stop using my preferred podcast app or accept that I'll get information a month late.
Some users have podcast apps they simply prefer, some have ones which they use for improved accessibility reasons, some can't install BBC Sounds due to local blocks or restrictions on devices.
Even worse, despite being logged into my Alexa speaker with BBC Sounds, if I ask it for the latest episode of Inside Science I get the one from a month ago.
This misguided decision affects a huge number of listeners, and it seems the only reason is to force users to download and use the BBC Sounds app, presumably so you can collect data on them.
It's a decision which has annoyed me for some time, but when it could actually be detrimental to public health it makes me angry which is why I'm now registering this complaint.
Response received 5th December 2022
Thanks for contacting us about what is happening with a small number of our radio programmes.
I want to explain more about what we're doing and why.
Since the launch of BBC Sounds, we have had some podcasts available first or only on our own digital platform. Now we're trialling having a number of our radio programmes available on-demand first on BBC Sounds for 28 days after they have broadcast on Radio 4 or 5 Live.
They will be available to stream on the BBC Sounds website and app across devices such as smart speakers, mobiles and connected TVs. They can also be downloaded via the BBC Sounds mobile/tablet app, then after 28 days, they can be downloaded via the BBC Sounds website and third party podcast providers.
We're doing this because we want more people to use BBC Sounds to listen to their favourite programmes where they can easily discover and enjoy other things from the BBC. We can't rely on other platforms, who have their own exclusive content and a global catalogue to promote, to do this for us. After a month the episodes will be available on other audio platforms.
You can read more about the trial here:
I appreciate you are unhappy about the change to how you can listen for the period of the trial. We know people have established ways of listening to on-demand audio but we also know many people already use multiple apps and platforms to listen to their favourite content.
Thank you for sharing your views which have also been passed to senior management including the team involved in this trial.
My response 5th December 2022
I've just received a response to my complaint, but it seems to be a template answer and does not take into account most of the points I have made. It's also full of seeming platitudes as to your reasons, few of which stand up to the slightest scrutiny.
To go through these...
1. You say "They will be available to stream... across devices such as smart speakers". This does not seem to be true. I'm logged into BBC Sounds on my Amazon Echo, so I can listed to live radio, but if I ask for the latest episode of Inside Science I get one from four weeks ago.
2. You say "We're doing this because we want more people to use BBC Sounds...". That's understandable, but you are doing so at the cost of making your content unavailable to some users, users with disabilities or users whose devices cannot install BBC Sounds, perhaps because they can't afford an up-to-date smartphone or because their jurisdiction won't allow it.
3. You say "...but we also know many people already use multiple apps and platforms..". This ignores those people who do not or cannot.
4. You fail to address the main point in my complaint. The program which was live on radio on 3rd November was titled "Monkeypox - Could you have it and not know?" This contains a public health message, the importance of which you surely understand in these post-pandemic days. To delay circulation of such information for the extremely weak reasons you have given is irresponsible for a public service broadcaster.
You say my views have been shared with senior management including the team involved in the trial. I would appreciate it if you would pass this reply on too.☝