Global warming documentary broke TV rules

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The Independent Online

A controversial Channel 4 documentary about global warming misrepresented the views of the Government's former chief scientist, Ofcom ruled today.





The broadcast regulator ruled that The Great Global Warming Swindle was in breach of a number of rules in the Broadcasting Code, including in its criticism of Sir David King for comments he did not make.



An Ofcom investigation also found the documentary, written and directed by Martin Durkin, treated Sir David, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Professor Carl Wunsch "unfairly".



The regulator said the programme made some "significant allegations" without offering an "appropriate and timely opportunity" to respond.



But Ofcom found - despite concerns over the presentation and omission of various facts and views - that the audience watching the programme, broadcast on March 8 last year, was not "materially misled".



The programme sought to challenge the theory that human activity is the main cause of climate change and global warming.



A range of scientists and commentators argued the current consensus on the causes of global warming is based on unsound science and is politically motivated.





Ofcom's investigation came in response to individual complaints from Sir David, the IPCC and Prof Wunsch.



There were also 265 complaints from members of the public, and there was a group complaint - running to 270 pages - from eight individuals, including scientists.



The group complaint argued that the programme would stop viewers acting to prevent climate change.



Channel 4 denied the allegations, saying the programme was an "authored polemic" which sought to examine the debate over the cause of global warming and outline possible alternative causes.



Ofcom found the majority of the programme did not result in the audience being materially misled to such an extent as to cause harm or offence.



But the regulator ruled that the final part of the programme breached the "due impartiality" requirement of the Code.



It found the programme-makers failed to include the "appropriate wide range of the significant views" when it focused on policies adopted by the UN.



Sir David's complaint related to the closing words of the programme from Professor Frederick Singer.



Prof Singer said: "There will still be people who believe that this is the end of the world - particularly when you have, for example, the Chief Scientist of the UK telling people that by the end of the century the only habitable place on the Earth will be the Antarctic.



"And humanity may survive thanks to some breeding couples who moved to the Antarctic - I mean this is hilarious. It would be hilarious actually if it weren't so sad."



Sir David, who was the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government from 2000 to 2007, said he told a House of Commons Select Committee in 2004: "Fifty-five million years ago was a time when there was no ice on the Earth, the Antarctic was the most habitable place for mammals, because it was the coolest place, and the rest of the Earth was rather uninhabitable because it was so hot."



He complained that his original statement made no reference to the survival of humanity depending on "breeding couples who moved to the Antarctic" and the programme had exaggerated his speech by replacing "most habitable" with "the only habitable".

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