Monday, 15 February 2010

Complaints 2 and 3

My second complaint was about the transcript inaccuracies, just a technical quibble and it's been dealt with. My third was on the subject of Solitaire Townsend's opinion which was unchallenged and presented as fact , ok here's what she says that makes my hackles rise:

I was making a speech to nearly 200
really hard core, deep environmentalists and I played
a little thought game on them. I said imagine I am the
carbon fairy and I wave a magic wand. We can get rid
of all the carbon in the atmosphere, take it down to
two hundred fifty parts per million and I will ensure
with my little magic wand that we do not go above
two degrees of global warming. However, by waving
my magic wand I will be interfering with the laws of
physics not with people – they will be as selfish, they
will be as desiring of status. The cars will get bigger,
the houses will get bigger, the planes will fly all over
the place but there will be no climate change. And I
asked them, would you ask the fairy to wave its
magic wand? And about 2 people of the 200 raised
their hands... I was angry. I wasn’t shocked. I was
angry because it really showed that they wanted
more. They didn’t just want to prevent climate
change. They wanted to somehow change people, or
at very least for people to know that they had to

Condescending, tick; misrepresentation,tick; unscientific polling, tick. You name it I could not let this go unchallenged so I emailed the BBC Complaints people with this :

She gets a roughly 1% agreeing with her proposition, however
given the information to hand there is 99% abstention and no votes against.
So the quorum agrees with her proposition. She then goes on to say what she
thinks this shows about what the environmentalists wanted . But it doesnt
show anything of the kind. Her proposition is a hypothetical question and
her conclusion that they wanted more cannot be arrived at solely from that
poll. Her opinion is unchallenged.

and got this back:

Dear Mr McStone

Thanks for your e-mail regarding 'Analysis' broadcast on 25 January.

I understand you had concerns with Solitaire Townsend's contribution on the programme.

Our aim is to remain impartial on all topics such as climate change and to provide only the facts to our listening audience who can make up their own minds on issues. We also aim to invite a wide range of people from different perspectives on to our programmes to express their point of view.

With your complaint in mind I can assure you that I've registered your comments on our audience log. This is the internal report of audience feedback which we compile daily for all programme makers and commissioning executives within the BBC, and also their senior management. It ensures that your points, and all other comments we receive, are circulated and considered across the BBC.

Thanks again for taking the time to e-mail us.


Ross Montgomery
BBC Complaints

Now because the documentary conflated fact with opinion throughout I ticked the box 'factual inaccuracy' , so I'll let them have that. Complaint Number 4 is on the same point anyhow, but on opinion, by then I was getting into my stride and alleged Section 7.9 of the Broadcasting Code had been broken, later that evening I issued an addendum (we'll call it Complaint Number 4a) citing Section 7.13

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