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THE BBC was criticised by climate change sceptics yesterday after it emerged that their views will get less coverage because they differ from mainline scientific opinion.

In a report by its governing body, the BBC Trust, the corporation was urged to focus less on opponents of the “majority consensus” in its programmes.

It said coverage should not be tailored to represent a “false balance” of opinion if one side came from a minority group.

The report was partly based on an independent review of coverage by Steve Jones, Professor of Genetics at University College, London.

Although he found no evidence of bias in BBC output, he suggested where there is a “scientific consensus” it should not hunt out opponents purely to balance the story.

He highlighted climate change as an example along with the controversy over the Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine potentially leading to autism.

On climate change, Professor Jones said there had been a “drizzle of criticism of BBC coverage” arising from “a handful of journalists who have taken it upon themselves to keep disbelief alive”.

The report says: “In its early days, two decades ago, there was a genuine scientific debate about the reality of climate change. Now, there is general agreement that warming is a fact even if there remain uncertainties about how fast, and how much, the temperature might rise.”

But critics accused Professor Jones of using the report as a cover to “push the BBC’s green agenda”.

Among them are former Tory Chancellor Lord Lawson, who was accused by the Government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir John Beddington, of making “incorrect” claims in An Appeal To Reason, the peer’s book on climate change.

Lord Lawson, chairman of the sceptical Global Warming Policy Foundation, said the fact that carbon dioxide levels were rising leading to global warming was not under dispute. However, he added, its extent and effect could not be explained by majority scientific opinion alone.

He said: “The BBC is already extremely one-sided on this issue. They have a settled view which is politically correct.

“The idea that because scientific opinion falls largely on one side you can’t have a debate is outrageous. Because there’s a strong majority in basic science doesn’t mean the issue is off the table, yet the BBC says it should be.”

The foundation’s director, Dr Benny Peiser, said the report would lead to biased coverage of climate change and stifle any real debate.

He said: “This is nothing the BBC has not been doing for the past 10 years, however. They are completely biased on the issue of climate change and this is nothing more than an effort to push their green agenda.”

Dr David Whitehouse, the foundation’s editor and a former BBC science correspondent, said the corporation had “lost the plot” when it came to science journalism.

He said the corporation was “grouping sceptics with deniers” which would result in a lack of valid scientific input to its reports.

He said: “A sceptic is not a denier, all good scientists should be sceptics. The BBC has got itself into a complete muddle.

“In seeking to get the science right it has missed the journalism which is about asking awkward questions and shaking the tree.”

But the BBC Trust defended the report. A spokesman said: “The report is not suggesting that climate change sceptics will not have a place on the BBC in future.

“The point Professor Jones makes is that the scientific consensus is that it is caused by human activity. Therefore the BBC’s coverage needs to give less weight to those who oppose this view, and reflect the fact that the debate has moved on to how to deal with climate change.”

Daily Express, 21 July 2011

Editorial: The BBC Should Not Just Peddle Fashionable Views

ANYONE who has followed the BBC’s coverage of the climate change debate in any detail will surely be puzzled by a recommendation that it should give less weight to the views of sceptics.

For it does not seem possible that it could give any less weight to those who doubt the strength of the link between carbon emissions and global temperature change, so partial is its approach.

Professor Steve Jones, the author of a report on behalf of the BBC Trust, says the Corporation should not go out of its way to challenge “consensus” views among the elite.

That is a dangerous argument and it should be ignored.

After all, the BBC has been found severely wanting after adopting just such an approach on other major issues.

For years it marginalised sceptics of mass immigration because a pro-migration consensus existed among the metropolitan elite.

Those who argue Britain would be better off out of the European Union are still marginalised

Now it admits that it did not cover the issue properly.

Similarly, those who argue Britain would be better off out of the European Union are still marginalised despite a welter of evidence to support their views and polls showing that at least half of licence-payers agree.

A cosy, pro-Brussels consensus among the leaderships of the major political parties and metropolitan opinion formers has stifled debate.

So the BBC Trust report is exactly wrong.

Daily Express 21 July 2011