BBC to stop give equal airtime to climate deniers

Climate change deniers, as well as people who are skeptical against other forms of established science, will from now on be given much less coverage from the BBC. The move comes after the release of an independent progress report (pdf) from the BBC Trust, the governing body of the public service broadcasting network. The report criticised the BBC for giving too much airtime to unqualified people with "marginal views" on non-controversial scientific facts, such as climate change, in a misguided effort to provide impartiality and editorial balance.

"The Trust wishes to emphasize the importance of attempting to establish where the weight of scientific agreement may be found and make that clear to audiences," the BBC Trust writes in the report. "Science coverage does not simply lie in reflecting a wide range of views but depends on the varying degree of prominence such views should be given. […] Impartiality in science coverage does not simply lie in reflecting a wide range of views," the report concludes.

The report builds upon a similar review issued back in 2011 which took a closer look on the networks' accuracy and impartiality when reporting on various scientific issues. The 2011-review came to the conclusion that the BBC had an "over-rigid" approach to impartiality that often resulted in "undue attention to marginal opinion" - such as climate denialism. As a result of that review, around 200 journalists and staff members at the BBC attended various seminars and workshops intended to improve their science coverage.

However, this does not mean that skeptical voices will be silenced altogether. The BBC Trust still thinks it's important that the public service broadcasting network gives coverage to dissenting opinions and to reach an ideal balance of coverage. But the viewers should from now on be able to more easily distinguish between scientific facts and opinions. "Audiences should be able to understand from the context and clarity of the BBC’s output what weight to give to critical voices," reads the report.

Related: John Oliver and Bill Nye shows why climate debates are ridiculous


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