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BBC staff ordered to stop giving equal air time to climate change deniers

- The Washington Times - Monday, July 7, 2014

The BBC's governing body has ordered staff to stop giving equal air time to climate change deniers and other scientific experts with a "marginal opinion."

The BBC Trust published a progress report analyzing the corporation's science coverage and found it remains prone to "over-rigid application of editorial guidelines on impartiality" that resulted in the BBC giving "undue attention to marginal opinion," The Telegraph reported.

The report's author, Steve Jones, emeritus professor of Genetics at University College London, said man-made climate change was one area where too much weight had been given to unqualified critics, The Washington Post reported.

Some 200 BBC staff have already attended seminars and workshops to learn what it means to cover science impartially, and more will be invited to attend courses in the coming months.

"The key point the workshops tried to impart is that impartiality in science coverage does not simply lie in reflecting a wide range of views, which may result in a 'false balance,' " Andrew Miller, chairman of Parliament's science and technology select committee, told The Post.

"More crucially it depends on the varying degree of prominence such views should be given. In this respect, editorial decisions should be guided by where the scientific consensus might be found on any given topic, if it can in fact be determined," he said.

The BCC Trust said the workshops aren't meant to stamp out dissenting viewpoints.

"The BBC has a duty to reflect the weight of scientific agreement but it should also reflect the existence of critical views appropriately," it said in a statement, The Post reported. "Audiences should be able to understand from the context and clarity of the BBC's output what weight to give to critical voices."

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