Channel 4 told to apologise to Greens

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CHANNEL 4 has been told to issue an on-screen apology to leading members of the Green movement after television's watchdog issued a damning report on its controversial Against Nature series.

In a major embarrassment for the broadcaster, Against Nature, which tried to take a critical view of environmentalism, has been found to have distorted the views of four contributors to the programme by selective editing, according to the Independent Television Commission. The makers of the programme, RDF Television, have also been found to have misled the contributors about the subject of the programmes when persuading them to take part in it.

Lord Melchett, head of Greenpeace, Tony Juniper of Friends of the Earth and two other leading conservationists complained to the ITC about how their views were presented by the programme.

After viewing unedited tapes of their interviews the ITC found that: "The views of the four complainants, as made clear to the interviewer, had been distorted by selective editing."

The ITC also found: "The interviewees had also been misled as to the content and purpose of the programmes when they agreed to take part."

Against Nature caused a furore in Green circles when it was shown in December last year and claimed that most environmentalist arguments could be disproved by "rational" science. It was promoted by Channel 4 as a counter-weight to the Green movement's "theology". It suggested that environmentalists had made science terrifying and argued that sustainable development held poor countries back.

The programmes were widely attacked and it was suggested that they followed the agenda of the fringe political group the Revolutionary Communist Party. Two of its contributors were linked to the RCP or were writers for its magazine Living Marxism.

Ian Willmore, spokesman for Friends of the Earth, welcomed the ITC's report: "This was a thoroughly bad programme which stitched up people who took part in it and was at best shoddy in its use of facts."

Channel 4 said: "We welcome the ITC's view which approved the approach adopted by Against Nature as a legitimate one. This reaffirms Channel 4's freedom to explore difficult, unpopular and unfashionable terrain."