Meaningless BBC drivel in responding to #climate complaint. How do they sleep?

Last Sunday the BBC Radio 4 programme “the Westminster Hour” had a ‘discussion’ about climate change.  The presenter casually said words to the effect “of course, there’s a lot of debate/uncertainty about this”.  This, of course, is nonsense, but sadly typical of arts graduates (I speak as one).

I complained – here’s the screengrab.  Below it find the “response” from them.  Condescending* drivel and clearly nonsense, and (deliberately?) missing the point – I wasn’t complaining about the UKIP guy who was on. I was complaining about the BBC anchordroid and her factual inaccuracy.  How do they sleep? What will they tell their children?





Dear Mr Hudson

Reference CAS-2575282-0T62VL

Thank you for contacting us regarding ‘The Westminster Hour’ broadcast on 16 February.

I understand that you were left angered at remarks made by Carolyn Quinn regarding the issue of climate change.

Although I recognise your concerns, I can assure you that we are committed to impartial and balanced coverage when it comes to this issue.

There is broad scientific agreement on the issue of climate change and we reflect this accordingly; however, we do aim to ensure that we also offer time to the dissenting voices. [This of course (deliberately?} misses the point.  I was NOT objecting to the presence of the UKIP guy, but the factually incorrect statement by the presenter!]

Flagship BBC programmes such as Newsnight, Today and our network news bulletins on BBC One have all included contributions from those who challenge the general scientific consensus recently and we will continue to offer time to such views on occasion

You might be interested in the views of former Newsnight editor, Peter Barron, who explored this issue in an online posting at our Editors’ Blog and explained some of the editorial issues it throws up:

Again I appreciate that this is something you feel strongly about and to that end I’d like to assure you that I’ve registered your concerns on our audience log. This is a daily report of audience feedback that’s made available to many BBC staff, including members of the BBC Executive Board, programme makers, channel controllers and other senior managers.

The audience logs are seen as important documents that can help shape decisions about future programming and content.

Thank you once again for taking the trouble to share your views with us.

Kind Regards

Richard Carey

BBC Complaints


* True, they are repaying like with like.


About manchesterclimatemonthly

Was print format from 2012 to 13. Now web only. All things climate and resilience in (Greater) Manchester.
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4 Responses to Meaningless BBC drivel in responding to #climate complaint. How do they sleep?

  1. gille liath says:

    That’s the BBC these days, I’m afraid. It’s pointless trying to talk to them. And to be fair, there *is* a lot of debate! Albeit, much of it appallingly / wilfully ignorant.

  2. I complained about Lawson’s appearance on the Today programme – this is what I got back:

    Thanks for contacting us regarding ‘Today’ from 13 February on BBC Radio 4.

    We understand you were unhappy with the inclusion of Lord Nigel Lawson as you felt he was an inappropriate guest to discuss climate change.

    We forwarded your complaint to Ceri Thomas, Head of Programmes at BBC News who responds as follows:

    “The BBC is committed to impartial and balanced coverage of climate change. Furthermore we accept that there is broad scientific agreement on the issue and reflect this accordingly. Across our programmes the number of scientists and academics who support the mainstream view far outweighs those who disagree with it. We do however on occasion, offer space to dissenting voices where appropriate as part of the BBC’s overall commitment to impartiality. The BBC Trust, which oversees our work on behalf of licence fee payers, has explicitly urged programme makers not to exclude critical opinion from policy debates involving scientists.

    As was clear from the discussion, there is no conclusive proof as yet of a direct link between the storms hitting the UK this year and climate change. It was therefore reasonable for Justin Webb to ask Sir Brian Hoskins about the limits of scientific knowledge, in particular how the lay person should judge the evidence. But he also rigorously challenged Lord Lawson – in particular on his assertion that focusing efforts on developing green energy sources was a waste of money and that resources would be better spent on improving our defences against bad weather. Both lines of questioning were designed to help listeners judge how to assess the recent bad weather in the context of climate change.

    Scientists do have a crucial role to play in this debate. ‘Today’ has a track record of interviewing distinguished experts on climate change such as Lord Krebs, Sir John Beddington and Sir Mark Walport; all three have appeared on the programme in single interviews in recent months. But politicians and pressure groups also have their place and in six weeks of flooding, this was the first interview on ‘Today’ with a climate change ‘sceptic.’

    Whilst there may be a scientific consensus about global warming – that it is happening and largely man-made – there is no similar agreement about what should be done to tackle it; whether money should be spent, for example, on cutting carbon emissions or would be better used adapting our defences to the changing climate. Lord Lawson is not a scientist, but as a former Chancellor of the Exchequer is well qualified to comment on the economic arguments, which are a legitimate area for debate.

    We believe there has to be space in the BBC’s coverage where scientific consensus meets reasonable argument about the policy implications of that consensus view. That said we do accept that we could have offered a clearer description of the sceptical position taken by Lord Lawson and the Global Warming Policy Foundation in the introduction. That would have clarified in the audience’s minds the ideological background to the arguments.

    I hope this helps explain our thinking.”

    We’d also like to assure you we’ve registered your complaint on our audience log. This is an internal report of audience feedback which we compile daily and is available for viewing by all our staff. This includes all news editors and presenters, along with our senior management. It ensures that your points, along with all other comments we receive, are considered across the BBC.

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