Saturday, 28 June 2014

'Today', Lord Lawson and the BBC Complaints Unit


Evidence from the latest IPCC report?

Here's one that will wind some of you right up!...

According to the Guardian, the BBC Editorial Complaints Unit has apparently upheld a complaint against the Today programme for inviting Lord Lawson on to discuss climate science without undermining him beforehand. Grauniad environment blogger Hugh Muir writes:
It still sends a frisson down the spine of certain producers to give airtime to the former chancellor Lord Lawson so that he can chip away at the widespread scientific agreement over the causes and impact of climate change. The temperature is always a little higher with a heretic in the room. And yet this route towards excitement has its dangers. As the go-to guy in the thinktank of his own creation, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, Lawson was called in February to the studios of the Today programme for debate with Sir Brian Hoskins, a climatologist from Imperial College London. Things did not go as they should, and the broadcast became the subject of a complaint from Chit Chong, a Green party activist. Reviewing the broadcast, the BBC's head of editorial complaints, Fraser Steel, took a dim view. "Lord Lawson's views are not supported by the evidence from computer modelling and scientific research," Steel says, "and I don't believe this was made sufficiently clear to the audience … Furthermore the implication was that Lord Lawson's views on climate change were on an equal footing with those of Sir Brian." And they aren't. Sceptics have their place in the debate, Steel says in his provisional finding, but "it is important to ensure that such views are put into the appropriate context and given due (rather than equal) weight." Chong is only partially satisfied. He'd like a right of reply and perhaps a balancing programme. And others say "due weight" should mean not having Lawson on at all. Still, Rome wasn't built in a day.
*****

For a less than impressed response to all this please read David Keighley's take at Conservative Women(h/t #88 at Biased BBC):
Enter Fraser Steel, the BBC’s complaints chief. And in jaw-dropping, nakedly Orwellian fashion, he has now ruled that Chit Chong was right.  According to a leaked report of his findings in – surprise, surprise, The Guardian – Mr Steel has said that Lord Lawson’s views on climate change alarmism ‘are not supported by computer modelling and scientific research’ He reportedly concludes:
“I don't believe this was made sufficiently clear to the audience... it is important to ensure that such views are put into the appropriate context and given due (rather than equal) weight."
If this is true, let’s not mince words. What this means is that because the BBC has decreed that climate change alarmism is proved by ‘consensus’, Lord Lawson, and those who doubt the BBC’s alarmism, should not ever be given equal airtime to put their case, if at all.
And it also raises the ludicrous prospect that before any such broadcast involving an opponent of alarmism, there should be editorial comment that such views are not supported by consensus. So in future, this, in effect, is what must happen (if Lord Lawson is ever asked to appear again):
John Humphrys: “With me now is Lord Lawson. I have to tell you first that the BBC has decided that the point of view he is expressing is not backed by scientific facts because a consensus of scientists tell us that this is the case. Now Lord Lawson, what do you think about this matter?”
I have worked as a journalist in different ways for almost 40 years and I have never heard anything so chillingly against the concept of free speech. I don’t know anything about Fraser Steel or his background because the BBC website says nothing about him other than that he is head of the complaints unit.
But what we now have is an army of BBC bureaucrats armed with stop-watches and their own brand of prejudice measuring every damn piece of BBC broadcasting to see if it measures up to the Corporation’s Own Version of The Truth.
David says he doesn't know anything about Fraser Steel's background, but Alan at B-BBC looks to have ferreted out something quite interesting about him. In his BBC Declaration of Personal Interests (2010) Mr Steel declares himself to be a "Non-executive director and chair of the board (unpaid)" of "UK Immigration Services", "a small firm of licensed immigration practitioners". That, Alan suggests, raises questions about his impartiality, especially given how many complaints about the BBC's immigration coverage must come his way. That Declaration of Personal Interests, however, also contains the following (agreed with his manager at the time, Caroline Thomson, by the looks of it)
These activities are undertaken outside BBC time and do not conflict or cross over in any way with his work as Head of ECU. In the unlikely event that an editorial complaint related to one of these bodies, Fraser would remove himself from all involvement in the case. 
Hopefully, Alan will dig some more into the matter. (I've tried just now but got nowhere). 

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