Monday, December 2, 2013

Monbiot asks people to tell the BBC to disclose interviewees’ funding

This is an online campaign that has some chance of success.

George Monbiot wrote the other day about the BBC’s failure to follow its own stated guidelines about publicly disclosing the relevant funding received by interviewees:
…It's bad enough when the BBC interviews people about issues of great financial importance to certain corporations when it has no idea whether or not these people are funded by those corporations – and makes no effort to find out. It's even worse when those interests have already been exposed, yet the BBC still fails to mention them.

…Here's what the BBC's editorial guidelines say about such matters:
3.4.7: “We should make checks to establish the credentials of our contributors and to avoid being ‘hoaxed’.”
3.4.12: “We should normally identify on-air and online sources of information and significant contributors, and provide their credentials, so that our audiences can judge their status.”
4.4.14: “We should not automatically assume that contributors from other organisations (such as academics, journalists, researchers and representatives of charities) are unbiased, and we may need to make it clear to the audience when contributors are associated with a particular viewpoint, if it is not apparent from their contribution or from the context in which their contribution is made.”

Every day people from thinktanks are interviewed by the BBC's news and current affairs programmes without any such safeguards being applied. There is no effort to establish their credentials, in order to avoid being hoaxed into promoting corporate lobbyists as independent thinkers. There is no effort to identify on whose behalf they are speaking, “so that our audiences can judge their status.” There is no attempt to make it clear to the audience that contributors are funded by the companies whose products they are discussing.

I would have no problem with the BBC interviewing people from these thinktanks if their interests were disclosed. If these organisations refuse to say who funds them, they should not be allowed on air. Their financial interests in the issue under discussion should be mentioned by the presenter when they are introduced.
At the end of the article, he calls on people to complain to the BBC and gives information on where to direct your complaints.

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