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« Pro-Lawson opinion | Main | Unminced words from Owen Paterson »
Sunday
Jul202014

BBC and Nigel Lawson

There is a letter in the Spectator from the Deputy Director of BBC News and Current Affairs on the subject of the BBC's spat over Nigel Lawson's appearance in discussion with Brian Hoskins.

H/t Is the BBC Biased

No ban on Lawson

Sir: You write that the BBC ‘has effectively banned’ Lord Lawson from items on climate change unless introduced with ‘a statement discrediting his views’ (Leading article, 12 July). There’s a lot of muddled reporting of this story. Lord Lawson hasn’t been in any sense ‘banned’, and the Editorial Complaints Unit finding didn’t suggest that he shouldn’t take part in future items. It found fault with the way the Today item was handled in two respects: firstly that it presented Lord Lawson’s views on the science of global warning as if they stood on the same footing as those of Sir Brian Hoskins, and secondly that it didn’t make clear to listeners that Lord Lawson represented a minority view. There is also no ban on other non-scientists discussing climate change. The BBC is absolutely committed to impartial and balanced coverage on this complex issue. Our position remains exactly as it was — we accept that there is broad scientific agreement on climate change and we reflect this accordingly. We do, however, on occasion offer space to dissenting voices where appropriate as part of the BBC’s overall commitment to impartiality.
Fran Unsworth Deputy director, BBC News and Current Affairs
Happy valleys

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Reader Comments (77)

How does the BBC know that Lord Lawson represents a minority view? I assume the BBC has checked.

Jul 20, 2014 at 10:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

Just like the Greens never got DDT banned - yeah right

Strange how they allow non-scientist with discredited views on various programmes!

Also I note that when it comes to climate they only use climate "scientists" who are in academia!

Same old biased BBC

Jul 20, 2014 at 10:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

How the BBC can continue to protest that its treatment of CAGW is unbiased, is beyond me. It has shown nothing but deliberate bias since the greenie campaign became newsworthy. The corporation will never allow a fair debate, until the infiltration of the green lobby is purged.

Jul 20, 2014 at 10:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

The BBC is absolutely committed to impartial and balanced coverage on this complex issue.
This made me laugh (sardonically).

Certain Political/Media bubble professionals dont realise how deeply and heartily they are despised by a non brainwashed minority, I imagine a minority of Soviet era lay people must have been as cynical of the human/material achievments of the organs of their establishments.

And since when has the BBC not had privileged minority views run rough shod over those of the silent majority of the general public?.

Jul 20, 2014 at 10:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterIanH

Thats right...there is no (published) ban. Just that the BBC won't interview anybody that might say a few words that turns the whole charade on its head. And Lawson does do it in a very few words.

And you must not embarrass somebody who represents a big bunch of fools who know very little about this planets system (+ wider environment) of climate control.

broad scientific agreement on climate change = most of us don't really know, so please send more money.

Jul 20, 2014 at 10:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterEx-expat Colin

"Our position remains exactly as it was — we accept that there is broad scientific agreement on climate change and we reflect this accordingly"
Insofaras the climate has and is always changing, this is like saying that we accept that night will follow day,
The truth is that the BBC accept CAGW which is entirely different to climate change.

Jul 20, 2014 at 10:49 AM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

Our position remains exactly as it was — we accept that there is broad scientific agreement on climate change and we reflect this accordingly.

Exactly what has the BBC decided there is 'broad scientific agreement' on? CO2 sensitivity? Policy? Model skill? Mickey Mann's Hokey Schtick? The 'pause'? Loopy Lew's conspiracy theories?

Climatology is surely notable for its *lack* of anything resembling a clear result beyond banalities like 'X affects Y a bit, probably'.

The most notable thing about it is its dysfunctional sociology.

Jul 20, 2014 at 10:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterJake Haye

I've replied.
We'll see on Friday if they print it. If not, I'll probably post it here.

Jul 20, 2014 at 11:02 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

So will Fran Unsworth Deputy director, BBC News and Current Affairs proudly be wearing a Royal British Legion Poppy on her lapel for Remembrance Day the 11 of November .

The day we celebrate the sacrifice of our fellow countrymen and women and many of our parents and grand parents including mine who went out and fought against the forces tyranny for free speech and democracy and our brave armed forces who are still doing so to this day.

Shame that Fran who is employed by our national broadcaster can't afford the same right to free speech to Climate Skeptics as she does to Muslim Extremists who burn Poppies.

The leaders in Australia and India have been democratically elected and they also don't believe in Climate Change hype as do many members of UKIP who could well be forming the next coalition government- would she also deny them their right to Democratic Free Speech?

Jul 20, 2014 at 11:11 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

No scientist would deny ''Climate Change'' only the mechanism causing it. It is the mechanism that must be discussed since some, like the BBC, seem to think that model output is scientific proof. it is not. It is observations and rational thought about what these observations mean that provides Proof. So far no observation has shown CO2 to drive temperature rather the reverse, Temperature drives CO2.

Jul 20, 2014 at 11:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

It is odd.

Is the BBC saying Brian Hoskins was speaking on behalf of the IPCC consensus? If so, then they demonstrate ignorance of IPCC views on climate. If Brian Hoskins was on the BBC to espouse his own views then his views should have an equal footing with Lawson's, they are, after all, just his opinions. If the BBC is saying Brian Hoskins' scientific background means all his views should be given prominence over Lawson's then I start worrying about the democratic process. Perhaps the BBC means Brian Hoskins' views should be given prominence over Lawson's views on areas in science in which Brian Hoskins has published, then fine, but even so Lawson could site the competing views of Hoskins' peers. In any case the BBC really needs to do some soul searching.

Jul 20, 2014 at 11:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul

Unsworth's most glaring obfuscation is the assumption that climate change is a matter solely for scientists.
BBC coverage is about policy at least as much as it is about the science. A climate scientist knows no more than any other person about what policies we should adopt in response to any climate change. That is a matter largely for economic analysis.
I believe that the latest data from the IPCC shows that that preventing climate change will be far far more expensive than adapting to it. So the BBC should be pointing out that anybody who proposes reducing CO2 emissions is supporting a minority view; one unsupported by IPCC data, In reality we all know that the BBC prefer to blur the distinction between science and policy in order to push their political agenda.

Jul 20, 2014 at 11:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlex

So, a bunch of arts and/or media studies graduates (against whom, in their proper place, I have no quibble) get to decide what is or is not science and who may speak about it. Ms Unsworth's words are weasel words.

Jul 20, 2014 at 11:22 AM | Registered Commenterdavidchappell

There is broad scientific agreement on climate change... Means what exactly? There is broad scientific agreement on medicine. Therefore anyone critical of any published medical study should be silenced.

Jul 20, 2014 at 11:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterWill Nitschke

More blanditudes from an establishment fuctionary penning huff and bluster just to get to the money quote -

Our position remains exactly as it was — we accept that there is broad scientific agreement on climate change and we reflect this accordingly. We do, however, on occasion offer space to dissenting voices where appropriate as part of the BBC’s overall commitment to impartiality.

There is broad scientific agreement on climate change? How? where? Objective or just a personal subjective opinion? The factual basis for this assetion is exactly what?

Nothing has changed, those at the BBC believe they are right, it is a settled science , eh?. And all said with no investigation in to what the real state of the situation is.


BroadcastingBullCarp for Bias, bias, and more bias.

Jul 20, 2014 at 11:24 AM | Unregistered Commentertom0mason

So next time the beeb has an activist promoting the latest scare story, will they make it clear that this is a minority view?

Jul 20, 2014 at 11:29 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

This reminds somewhat me of a 2012 statement by the BBC.

The BBC has said there is "no evidence" to suggest Newsnight was urged to drop an investigation into allegations of sexual assault by Sir Jimmy Savile.

To the Edge of Mendacity.

Jul 20, 2014 at 11:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

"secondly that it didn’t make clear to listeners that Lord Lawson represented a minority view."

.
In other words "we are even more even-handed than people think by our allowing an outlier to utter a view"

There, that's the boundary for the debate set....

Jul 20, 2014 at 11:55 AM | Unregistered Commenterjones

"It found fault with the way the Today item was handled in two respects: firstly that it presented Lord Lawson’s views on the science of global warning as if they stood on the same footing as those of Sir Brian Hoskins, and secondly that it didn’t make clear to listeners that Lord Lawson represented a minority view."

I wonder how the BBC proposes to implement these two points? Will they make a short announcement before the interview to state whose views are superior, and whose are supported by the majority. Presumably these announcements will be made frequently before interviews. For example when the Russian spokesman gives his views on the Ukraine situation, or a spokesman for banking executives speaking on the economic crisis. Surely such an idea is insulting to both the person invited to speak and also the listener.

Jul 20, 2014 at 12:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterDerek

I am still waiting for the BBC to produce an Horizon programme looking at the whole area of earth's climate with scientific objectivity and balance including a look at computer models and the problem of all the variables involved.
If they do that then the senior management will be properly informed on the subject.

Jul 20, 2014 at 12:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoss Lea

There’s a lot of muddled reporting of this story.

An area in which the BBC has some expertise.

Jul 20, 2014 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpeed

You do know, don't you, truth and facts is not a main goal of the BBC.

Jul 20, 2014 at 12:51 PM | Unregistered Commentercedarhill

"Lord Lawson represented a minority view"

I guess the BBC has surveyed enough citizens of the UK to confirm their statement.

Jul 20, 2014 at 1:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

Silly me, the man in the street doesn't count.

Jul 20, 2014 at 1:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

If such doctrines are to be implemented for all-things climate science related, does it not follow that the principle should then be rolled out universally on every subject, for every interview, for every discussion the BBC hosts?

The Green party is in a minority of one at Parliament. Should Natalie Bennett's next appearance on Question Time be prefaced by a sombre-faced David Dimbleby advising viewers that "Ms Bennett represent a party with only one seat and a pathetic 2% of the vote"?
Maybe he should inform viewers that although Dr David Starkey is a gay man his views are only representative of a 3% minority, or that the views of 5m Scottish carry less weight than 60m English?

And on it goes. Surely this is a given? It's only fair.

Jul 20, 2014 at 1:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterCheshirered

I was under the impression that a "Lord" was senior to a "Sir". Should the BBC not reflect that.

Jul 20, 2014 at 2:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterIvor Ward

Cheshirered:

Your grin is all that I can see;
whyever should this be?

Jul 20, 2014 at 2:16 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

I like this ruling it surely means the non science trained greens won't be allowed to comment endlessly on scientific matters such as carbon/climate and fracking. A relief to us all.

Jul 20, 2014 at 2:18 PM | Unregistered Commenterscribblingscribe

[snip]

Jul 20, 2014 at 3:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

Broad agreement amongst the people we talk to.
Lord Lawson has not been banned, he has simply become an un-person, as will anyone else who disagrees with the people we talk to.

Jul 20, 2014 at 4:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhilip

"In any case the BBC really needs to do some soul searching." (Paul)

They won't find one.

Jul 20, 2014 at 4:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterAllan M

Steve McIntyre has analysed this:

http://climateaudit.org/2014/07/13/was-lawson-right-about-the-uk-floods/

Ask the BBC where he gets it wrong.

Jul 20, 2014 at 5:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaleC

"It found fault with the way the Today item was handled in two respects: firstly that it presented Lord Lawson’s views on the science of global warning as if they stood on the same footing as those of Sir Brian Hoskins, (whereas Lord Lawson's views on this subject are significantly closer to those of the IPCC) and secondly that it didn’t make clear to listeners that Lord Lawson represented a minority but informed view, in that he knows what he's talking about in energy policy matters whereas Hoskins and the Beeb and most politicians are absolutely clueless."

There, fixed it for him.

Jul 20, 2014 at 5:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

"We do, however, on occasion offer space to dissenting voices where appropriate"

This is an admission that news is no longer being reported. In real reporting, there are no "dissenting" voices. There's just voices.

Andrew

Jul 20, 2014 at 5:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew

Will they take the same position with regard to activists, who are a decided minority, who claim that GMOs are dangerous? Or non-engineers who say that nuclear power is dangerous? Or non-scientists (especially lawyers) who say that a particular medication or procedure is unsafe?Of course not - they thrive on controversy, and when activsts stoke the fires, they get more views and more status and money. But when it comes to implementing a program of control over the populace, one in which they will benefit immesurably, any controversial views must be identified as such, so that doubt about AGW cannot be allowed to take hold.

It is the progressive plan for the future, which does not include any technologies that they find frightening or threatening, or that empower individuals. Only groups that they support should be empowered.

Jul 20, 2014 at 5:27 PM | Unregistered Commenterrxc

"...we accept that there is broad scientific agreement on climate change..."
Oh Fran! And so does Lord Lawson. Remove your blinkers!

Cheshirered: ++1 Bloody well said. Take note, Fran.

Jul 20, 2014 at 5:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

Given that can't be many topics of interest to newsy programmes that do not have speakers with 'minority views', it will be interesting to see how quickly the BBC ignores this latest piece of sophistry on their part. On for example the death penalty, the EU, homosexual marriage, mass immigration, multiculturalism, wind farms, the human rights Act, etc,etc. These are all areas in which the slant promoted by the BBC may well be a minority one.Will they introduce their anointed ones in theses areas with a caution that they represent a minority view? Will pigs soon fly?

Jul 20, 2014 at 6:07 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Does anyone seriously believe that the bosses of the BBC will say that the views of environmental activists on fracking should not be given the same weight as those of qualified engineers and geologists?

If the BBC's newsreaders and reporters continue to refer to "fracking" as "the controversial process of fracking" would that constitute an infringement of its charter? After all, it never refers to the "controversial theory of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming."

Jul 20, 2014 at 6:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

the BBC is to unbiased reporting like ADOLF HITLER to the Ghay festival

Jul 20, 2014 at 7:02 PM | Unregistered Commenterptw

Mealy mouth reply. The BBC are such slime. They wiggle and slither in defense of the undefensible. Yuk.

Jul 20, 2014 at 7:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

It is becoming commercially clear that eventually the good old BBC will be looking for support from the UK public.

Come that time I will not be upfront and center.

Jul 20, 2014 at 7:36 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

The BBC gives the game away when it talks about "our position".
A public service broadcast organisation should NOT have "a position" on anything.

By adopting "a position" on climate change it is tacitly admitting that it is a propaganda outlet for that "position".

Jul 20, 2014 at 7:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikky

This disgraceful episode must not be allowed to fade away. The BBC has dug a hole for itself by treating the controversial subject of climate change as a special case. It is only special because they are biased and dance to the tune of the eco-activists.

The BBC position is a nonsense and they know it. This rubbish about making it clear to listeners that a minority view is being represented is completely stupid. Is this going to apply to all controversial issues? Will they do this with Clegg? What about Davey, he is the only one who thinks windmills are useful?

The more people who write to publications ridiculing the BBC, the better. I think they may actually have to back down on this one, that would certainly be a first.

The idea that they deliberately limit one side of the debate is also nonsense. How can that possibly be impartial? Who are they to judge? How do they measure scientific agreement and what, exactly, is being agreed? Should they not apply this to all controversial debates, in the interests of impartiality, of course.

We must keep this one running. It makes BBC managers look like fools.

Jul 20, 2014 at 8:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

'We do, however, on occasion offer space to dissenting voices where appropriate as part of the BBC’s overall commitment to impartiality.'

Reminds me of
date: Wed Dec 8 08:25:30 2004
from: Phil Jones <p.jones@uea.xx.xx>
subject: RE: something on new online.
to: “Alex Kirby”

At 17:27 07/12/2004, you wrote:

Yes, glad you stopped this — I was sent it too, and decided to
spike it without more ado as pure stream-of-consciousness rubbish. I can well understand your unhappiness at our running the other piece. But we are constantly being savaged by the loonies for not giving them any coverage at all, especially as you say with the COP in the offing, and being the objective impartial (ho ho) BBC that we are, there is an
expectation in some quarters that we will every now and then let them say something. I hope though that the weight of our coverage makes it clear that we think they are talking through their hats.
—–Original Message—–

Prof. Phil Jones
Climatic Research Unit

Jul 20, 2014 at 8:37 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

I wonder if Owen Paterson MP now has time to comment in the media on this situation. That would be fun.

To borrow a phrase from the BBC's corporal Jones,

"They don't like it up 'em."

Jul 20, 2014 at 8:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

Jul 20, 2014 at 8:37 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

Well done Pharos - for reminding us of the power of the internet and the brave individual who hacked (or more likely deliberately exposed) the corrupt scientists and drama-greens ........... What a rich seam of duplicity laid bare!

Jul 20, 2014 at 9:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobert Thomson

The BBC will of course carry on regardless. Their mantra will still be -
"A ban on deniers skeptics, a ban on the news of deniers skeptics, a ban on the source of news on deniers skeptics."

Jul 20, 2014 at 9:08 PM | Unregistered Commentertom0mason

The question I don't see the BBC answering or being asked, is why they spend so much time discussing the issue. There is a universe of worthy topics that come under the umbrella of science yet they all play second fiddle to global-warming catastrophism. I think that says a lot about the editors the BBC employs to decide what they choose to report.

Jul 20, 2014 at 9:25 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Jul 20, 2014 at 7:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikky

Exactly.

Jul 20, 2014 at 9:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

firstly that it presented Lord Lawson’s views on the science of global WARNING as if they stood on the same footing as those of Sir Brian Hoskins,

Freudian slip or.............. ?

Jul 20, 2014 at 10:40 PM | Unregistered Commenterdon

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