A right time to complain

You refer to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission's rigid adherence to time limits coming under High Court scrutiny in the case of Countess Ilona Esterhazy (The Lawyer 29 July).

I would just like to set the record straight. The commission does not adhere rigidly to time limits – these are for guidance only. When complaints are received outside the guideline of three months from the date of the broadcast in the case of a television programme, or six weeks in the case of a radio broadcast, the commission then considers whether there is good reason for the delay which would enable it to entertain the complaint.

The guidelines coincide with the periods under the Act for which broadcasters are required to keep tapes of programmes.

You also refer to the commission ruling on Countess Esterhazy's case without considering the merits of her complaints.

The commission always decides whether a case comes within its jurisdiction under the terms of the Broadcasting Act 1996 before setting in motion the process of considering the merits of the case itself. As a matter of interest, Countess Esterhazy withdrew her challenge to the commission.

It is helpful to both the commission and to clients if lawyers can submit a complaint within the time guidelines or adduce good reasons as to why they were unable to do so.

Hillary Bauer

Fairness director

Broadcasting Standards Commission.