The BBC announces new editorial guidelines that concern climate change. Science has been added to the list of controversial subjects, I gather . I haven't yet found the BBC's official announcement but the skeptics seem to think this will benefit them. David Jordan, Controller Editorial Policy is the author of the new guidelines and was interviewed by the esteemed Roger Bolton on Feedback, for the record here's what was said.
RB: Can I start by asking you... it is the attitude that producers should take to the question of climate change. Is it alright for a programme maker to proceed on the basis that climate change is occurring and it is largely man made?
DJ: The way we approach scientific controversy and indeed other controversies where there is a general consensus about something being the case is to say that we don't have to in every time we mention the issue have a balance of view one way or the other, in fact you can distort the debate if every time you talk about man made climate change you have somebody who either denies that it's happening at all or doesn't believe that it's man made. The important thing is that in our airwaves and in our coverage it's acknowledged that there are people who don't accept that there is man made climate change. They don't have to be part of every programme we make on the subject or be part of every discussion we do on the subject provided across our airwaves in general that view is reflected from time to time.
RB: You say they don't have to refer to the alternative view but do they have to critically question those who are saying that it is a proven reality?
DJ: It's appropriate for any report on those subjects to cross examine or question any assumptions that people may be making but it isn't necessary for the two different views always to be represented equally in any given programme.
RB: But no BBC programme should be a campaigning programme on an issue like this.
DJ: No. We don't do campaigning. We report
RB (interrupts) We shouldn't do but some of our listeners would think some programmes are campaigning.
DJ: We report campaigns and we shouldn't ever be campaigning on issues of this sort. Other than issues around broadcasting the BBC doesn't take sides and doesn't have a view.
RB; Can we move on to the new guidelines that you've just published. why are they needed, what has happened to make them necessary in your view?
DJ: Well, you know Roger, someone as long in the tooth as you are, knows that things change over the years we've had a lot of
RB: (interrupts) Principals don't change do they?
DJ: No the principals may not change hugely but the last one was produced in the wake of the Hutton Inquiry and the Gilligan affair, this one's being produced in the wake of some major editorial policy shocks, namely the telephony and interactivity issues, the issues over queengate and latterly the Brand Ross issue.
RB: Now you're extending the ideas of impartiality to a wider area. Theres an investigation by the Trust about the question of science and there's the issue of religion where you have at least in the view of the National Secular Society given further protection from offence to religious believers , have you done that?
(Interview continues on the subject of religion)