The BBC have kindly confirmed my conclusions about their dictatorial approach to ‘climate’ coverage.
I had explained that the BBC did not need to ban sceptics such as Lord Lawson from their airwaves: they already had carte blanche to ignore them following an Ofcom ruling that the BBC breached guidelines by not challenging Lord Lawson’s view sufficiently.
Now this has all been put into writing for staff by the BBC’s head of news and current affairs, Frans Unsworth (still in situ despite her attempts to justify the corporation’s actions over Sir Cliff Richard), so that there can be absolutely no mistake about it, and no one can commit the error of thinking they ought to put forward a balancing view.
Yesterday the Times reported the new guidance, accurately heading it ‘BBC freezes out climate sceptics’.
In a blow-by-blow set of instructions, editorial staff are told how to report climate change telling them, inter alia, that they ‘do not need a ‘denier’ to balance the debate’.
The guide sets out the BBC’s barmily biased ‘logic’:
· Man-made climate change exists: If the science proves it we should report it. The BBC accepts that the best science on the issue is the IPCC’s position [this is the UN International Panel on Climate Change, the views of which are set out in the guide].
· Be aware of ‘false balance’: As climate change is accepted as happening, you do not need a ‘denier’ to balance the debate. Although there are those who disagree with the IPCC’s position, very few of them now go so far as to deny that climate change is happening. To achieve impartiality, you do not need to include outright deniers of climate change in BBC coverage, in the same way you would not have someone denying that Manchester United won 2-0 last Saturday. The referee has spoken. However, the BBC does not exclude any shade of opinion from its output, and with appropriate challenge from a knowledgeable interviewer, there may be occasions to hear from a denier.
· There are occasions where contrarians and sceptics should be included within climate change and sustainability debates. These may include, for instance, debating the speed and intensity of what will happen in the future, or what policies government should adopt. Again, journalists need to be aware of the guest’s viewpoint and how to challenge it effectively. As with all topics, we must make clear to the audience which organisation the speaker represents, potentially how that group is funded and whether they are speaking with authority from a scientific perspective – in short, making their affiliations and previously expressed opinions clear.
Ms Unsworth explains why in her covering email:
‘After a summer of heatwaves, floods and extreme weather, environment stories have become front of mind for our audiences. There are a number of important related news events in the coming months – including the latest report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Green Great Britain Week in October – so there will be many more stories to cover. Younger audiences, in particular, have told us they’d like to see more journalism on the issue.’
With this in mind, she tells staff that ‘we are offering all editorial staff new training for reporting on climate change’.
As Craig Byers, editor of Is the BBC biased? puts it: The referee has spoken.
And so, as he points out, has a second referee, the former BBC environment correspondent Richard Black , now director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit think tank. Black approves:
‘The creation of this course is welcome news. The BBC was wrong in my view to scrap the science seminars that it set up in 2011 – very few producers and presenters have a science background.
‘The course will be criticised by some – words like ‘stifling the debate’ – but those voices are decreasingly important in the country. I think the real takeaway from this is that the BBC has decided it no longer cares about evidence-free allegations of ‘bias’. It’s to be commended for putting its mojo on display.’
The target of this briefing is inter alia the Global Warming Policy Foundation, of which Lord Lawson is chairman. This think tank offers the highest-profile challenge in the UK to the climate change lobby and the vested interests behind the green tyranny, discussed here on TCW. It will be interesting to see whether the BBC ‘ban’ now extends to all the scientists published by the GWPF and reporters such as the Telegraph’s much-respected Matt Ridley, who is on the GWPF board.
The truth, would the BBC ever take look at themselves, is that its (the BBC’s) climate change coverage is now so bad that almost no criticism can convey sufficiently the problem. This is what Unsworth’s Stalinist-style instruction underlines. As Harry Wilkinson put it on TCW on Friday, climate science has to be more deeply grounded in real-world observations rather than models that are inevitably riddled with flawed human assumptions.