BBC respond to complaint about universal sockets

Universal sockets and the BBC

In May 2012 the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘From Our Own Correspondent’ contained a report from Peter Day, Global business correspondent, BBC News. In the report Mr Day was seemingly impressed by the universal sockets while staying in the hotels in China and was unduly promoting the benefits of these sockets. Unfortunately, Mr Day was unaware of the dangers of such sockets.

Several complaints were made about the broadcast, after it was aired, explaining that universal sockets are dangerous and illegal in the UK. After no response from the BBC was received a further complaint was made and the BBC News website responded removing the photograph of the socket from the report. Further complaints were made and while the BBC continued to ignore the complaints, independent reports were published by both Electrical Safety First and BEAMA emphasizing the dangers associated with universal sockets. Both reports were sent for the BBCs attention.
The Electrical news website: Voltimum published a story entitled BBC and ‘Fatally Flawed’ in dispute over Chinese made ‘universal sockets’ (FatallyFlawed is PlugSafe’s sister organisation). In addition to this story, Ian Murray MP took an interest in the issue and raised it directly with the BBC management.
Eventually a request for investigation was made to the Editorial Complaints Unit on 18th November 2014 and the issue began to receive the proper and serious attention it deserved. The programme transcript was deleted from the BBC magazine news item in March 2015, and the iPlayer version removed a few weeks later. The Editorial Complaints Units published its findings in June 2015, announcing the complaint had been upheld as follows:
A universal plug socket…at last?, Finding by the Editorial Complaints Unit Complaint

This article, which originated as an item in Radio 4’s From Our Own Correspondent, arose from the correspondent’s discovery of a “universal” plug socket in his hotel room on a visit to China. A representative of the PlugSafe electrical safety campaign complained that this tended to promote a product which was intrinsically dangerous, and that the article’s account of the origins of diverse national standards for sockets and plugs was misleading.

The complainant’s account of the intrinsic danger of the product was well-founded, as was his concern that, although illegal in the UK, it was readily available online. The article also gave a misleading impression of how diverse standards in this area had arisen.

Further action

The article was replaced by a note explaining that it had given rise to safety concerns, and the original broadcast was removed from iPlayer.


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