Monday, August 04, 2008

More Swindle stuff from Channel 4

Apparently there will be a short broadcast concerning OFCOM's ruling on Durkin's Swindle, first on Channel 4 tonight (4 August 2008), at 21:00, between 'The Genius of Charles Darwin' and 'Can't Read, Can't Write'; and then (presumably a repeat) on More4 (don't ask me what that means, when I left the UK Richard Whiteley was still presenting Countdown) on the 5th August 2008, at 22:00, between 'Come Dine With Me' and 'True Stories' [The Thin Blue Line]. Someone let me know what they said, please...


AdamW said...

More4 is another C4 channel, available only to digital (& satellite?) viewers. IIRC the swindle programme was repeated on that channel, so they probably have to make the broadcast on that channel, too.

The C4 broadcast will also be on 4+1 (the C4 channel that's just C4 but running an hour late), erm an hour later too.

So is "The Genius of Charles Darwin" going be edited to make it appear like a Dawkins rant in favour of creationism? ;)

crandles said...

Very brief and specifically said it was about 3 complaints - the unfairness ones. No mention of accuracy complaint.

Dave Rado said...

The following text was displayed on screen and read out by Channel 4 a few minutes ago, at 9pm BST:

Summary of Adjudication

Complaints by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Sir David King and Carl Wunsch
The Great Global Warming Swindle, More 4, 12 March 2007


This is a summary of adjudication by Ofcom, the communications regulator. It concerns 3 complaints about the programme The Great Global Warming Swindle, a documentary that challenged the scientific theory that man-made activities are a major cause of global warming.

Ofcom found the programme was unfair in a number of ways.

It made significant allegations about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, questioning its scientific credibility, but failed to offer the IPCC a timely and appropriate opportunity to respond.

It unfairly attributed to the former government Chief Scientist, Sir David King, comments he had not made, and criticised him for them. It also failed to provide him with an opportunity to respond.

The programme makers did not properly explain the nature of the programme to one of its contributors, Professor Carl Wunsch, when he agreed to take part, and the broadcast unfairly implied that he had agreed with the premise of the programme.

For a full copy of the adjudications go to Ofcom’s website at


I asked a few people if they could utube it but no-one replied.


Dave Rado said...

Hi Crandles

Channel 4's penalty regarding the Fairness complaints that were upheld was to have to read out and display the summary of adjudication on prime time television.

There was no penalty for the sections of the Standards complaints (relating to accuracy and impartiality) that were upheld (i.e. that part 5 of the film breached Ofcom's impartiality rules).

So as well as the ruling itself being questionable, Ofcom seem to be fairly toothless when it comes to penalties - although they do have strong powers.


Dave Rado said...

I've posted the full adjudication summary formatted in Ofcom's style, here

P. Lewis said...

This, from the BBC report into the Ofcom findings into "Swindle", truly beggars belief:


Ofcom defines a misleading programme as one by which the audience is "materially misled so as to cause harm or offence", and that Swindle does not meet this "high test".


The regulator also says it is only obliged to see that news programmes meet "due accuracy".


But the main portion of the film, on climate science, did not breach these rules.

Ofcom's logic is that "the link between human activity and global warming... became settled before March 2007".

This being so, it says, climate science was not "controversial" at the time of broadcast, so Channel 4 did not break regulations by broadcasting something that challenged the link.

"That's a very big inconsistency," said Sir John Houghton. "They said it's completely settled, so why worry - so they can just broadcast any old rubbish."

Documentaries, it seems, according to Ofcom, can no longer be considered factual TV; they belong with the Soaps and other fictional TV offered up as entertainment, rather than with news and its analysis.

crandles said...

If it wasn't for the unfairness rulings then I think it would be approaching a 'truly beggars belief" level.

Without the unfairness rulings it would appear the regulator would think it would be fine for a documentary to produce something outrageous contrary to some settled science.

Even with the unfairness rulings, it seems they could not get away with inaccurate quotes taken out of context. That still seems to leave the possibility that accurate quotes taken out of context might be ok.

Misleading participants as to the purpose of the broadcast does not seem permitted.

A threat by scientists in general to boycott documentaries unless the producers accept that the documentary should be subject to due accuracy rules does not seem likely and would likely be counterproductive (more likely to be quoted out of context).

Anyway, where does this leave the situation? Is an appeal being planned or considered?

What is the main problem needing tackling? Is it:

a) The broadcasting code not requiring due accuracy for documentaries?

b) The guidance notes to the broadcasting code allowing ofcom to take the view that only misleading so as to cause harm or offence is a breach of the code.
The code says “Factual programmes or items or portrayals of factual matters must not materially mislead the audience”.

The guidance says “Ofcom is required to guard against harmful or offensive material, and it is possible that actual or potential
harm and/or offence may be the result of misleading material in relation to the representation of factual issues. This rule is therefore designed to deal with content which materially misleads the audience so as to cause harm or offence.”

c) The Ofcom opinion that in this case it did not cause harm or offence.

d) The Ofcom opinion that in this case it was not a matter of major political controversy or major matters relating to current public policy. This would have lead to a requirement for due impartiality. Ofcom indicated that anthopogenic global warming is settled. Sensible but this appears to miss the possibility that the anthro part is settled but there are other matters such as the rate of change in response to CO2 is not settled and that sensible public policy might depend on the expected rate.

d) the broadcast coverage of the decision which allowed channel 4 executives to claim they were right to broadcast and ofcom ruled in their favour over misleading.

e) the effect being to drag ofcom and the broadcasting code into ridicule.

f) some combination of the above

g) something else.

Dave Rado said...

Hi crandles

Just to let you know that we are appealing. We can't appeal on the grounds the code itself is deficient, though, but we think there's ample evidence that Ofcom didn't implement the existing code correctly.


Alastair said...

The problem is that here, in blogosphere, in the media, etc. no-one seems to be able to follow an idea that is complex. Sorry, people can only follow simple ideas.

The simple idea that you bloggers all believe is:
1)The models predict that global warming will happen.
2)Global warming is happening.
3)Therefore the models are correct.

But logically 2) is true whether 1) is correct or not!

3) is in fact false!

That is the basis of the Global Warming Swindle.

Prof. Wunsch does not believe in the model, which proposes that the (slow moving ) ocean currents caused the rapid climate cooling which ushered in the Younger Dryas stadial.

He is correct, but that does not mean that all other climate models are correct, which he seems to believe.

(Can anyone understand this simple logic?-)

Cheers, Alastair

bi -- International Journal of Inactivism said...

"3) is in fact false!" [...] Prof. Wunsch does not believe in the model, which proposes that [...] but that does not mean that all other climate models are correct, which he seems to believe."

Yeah, just-so statements from no-name inactivists are obviously "facts", while summaries of research papers as explained by credentialed climate experts are obviously just "beliefs".