Saturday, July 19, 2008

"Watchdog finds documentary was unfair to scientists but did not mislead viewers"

The Grauniad is reporting that OFCOM is going to censure Channel 4 for Durkin's swindle, on the grounds that it "misrepresented some of the world's leading scientists". Even so, it "did not breach the regulator's broadcasting code". Score 0-1 against the regulator's broadcasting code, in that case.

Despite criticising Durkin for how the IPCC and Sir David King were treated, OFCOM seems to agree with my judgement that Wunsch was not actually badly misrepresented (although I can of course understand him being unhappy about how he was presented). And if Singer had had the sense to correctly attribute Lovelock's comments on "breeding pairs" etc (or report more accurately what David King had actually said) that would have taken the sting out of another of the major complaints, without changing the message substantially.

So it doesn't seem like the complaint has actually resulted in that definitive an outcome, although will have to wait to next week for the official version (and I suspect science correspondents may be harsher on Durkin than the Guardian's media correspondent was). I do hope that scientists who may in the future be tempted to appear in anything related to Martin Durkin and/or his company WAG TV will do a quick google search to find out what a piece of work he is, though.

1 comment:

crandles said...

"The Broadcasting Code requires Channel 4 to show "due impartiality" on "matters of major political and industrial controversy and major matters relating to current public policy".

The last segment of the programme, dealing with the politics of climate change, broke this obligation, Ofcom judged, and did not reflect a range of views, as required under the code.

However, the regulator said it did not believe, given the nature of the programme, that this led to the audience being "materially misled so as to cause harm or offence" - the standard that Ofcom says complaints have to reach.

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

This being so, it says, disputing the scientific link between human activity and climate change does not meet the Broadcasting Code's definition of "controversial". "

This implies madness on two counts:

1. If it is controverial code says don't mislead but if uncontroverial then misleading is OK.

2. If it hinged on controversy being needed when the sentence included "matters of major political and industrial controversy and major matters relating to current public policy"
suggest that that there is neither controversy (true) but also that climate change is not a 'major matters relating to current public policy'.

Probably needs a review of the judgement rather than the BBC news story.