Wildlife TV infringes animals' privacy, says academic
Wildlife documentaries deny animals their "right to privacy", an academic claimed today.
Producers of nature shows ignore privacy ethics when considering the mechanics of filming, argues Brett Mills, of the University of East Anglia.
BBC show Nature's Great Events - narrated by Sir David Attenborough - was scrutinised in his research.
Dr Mills said: "Human notions of privacy which rest on ideas of location or activity are ignored in terms of animals. It doesn't matter what an animal does, or where it does it, it will be deemed fair game for the documentary."
Dr Mills, who published his study in Continuum: Journal Of Media And Cultural Studies, said: "Perhaps there is an argument for some species, in some circumstances, not to be filmed. At the moment it seems that such arguments are never put forward.
"It might at first seem odd to claim that animals might have a right to privacy. Privacy, as it is commonly understood, is a culturally human concept.
"The key idea is to think about animals in terms of the public/private distinction. We can never really know if animals are giving consent, but they often do engage in forms of behaviour which suggest they'd rather not encounter humans, and we might want to think about equating this with a desire for privacy.
"When confronted with such 'secretive' behaviour, the response of the wildlife documentary is to read it as a challenge to be overcome with the technologies of television. The question constantly posed by wildlife documentaries is how animals should be filmed: they never ask whether animals should be filmed at all."
Distinctions between the public and private are enshrined within broadcasting regulations, with privacy placed within ethical categories of human rights, Dr Mills writes.
"While never made explicit, such regulations assume that such ethics are applicable to humans only," said Dr Mills.
"The ethical standards applying to wildlife programmes are predominately predicated on ensuring that 'audiences should never be deceived or misled by what they see or hear', that is the 'contract with the viewer' is prioritised over the rights of the animals."
Liam Neeson's Downton dreams
Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage
Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour
Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason
Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama
Campaigners lobby Duchess of Cornwall to persuade her son-in-law to cease Knebworth solar farm
Animal Extinction - the greatest threat to mankind
Climate change means rate of growth of trees has gone up by 77%
Shoppers rush to buy extra-strength vacuum cleaners before EU ban comes into force
Conquering Everest: 60 facts about the world's tallest mountain
- 1 Thailand beach murders: Thai PM suggests 'attractive' female tourists cannot expect to be safe wearing bikinis
- 2 Scottish independence: What you shouldn't tweet about if you want to avoid jail today
- 3 Scottish independence: Five reasons Salmond is secretly hoping for a 'No' vote
- 4 Isis plan to 'behead random member of the public' in Sydney thwarted by Australian police
- 5 Scottish independence: Andy Murray backs Yes campaign in eleventh hour decision
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...
£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...
£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...