When they set out to review the accuracy and impartiality of BBC coverage in 2010, the trust said:
"Scientific developments have the capacity to directly affect us all significantly.
Debates relating to everything from climate change to medical advances to DNA
technology feature prominently in our public discourse. And ethical, policy and
funding questions associated with science arouse strong emotions. As a
consequence they often strike at the core of sensitive editorial issues. So it is vital
that the BBC's audience enjoys science coverage of the very highest standards."
"Impartiality in science coverage does not simply lie in reflecting a wide range of views, but depends on the varying degree of prominence (due weight) such views should be given," the report states, explaining that to correct any fallacy of false balance in their programming the BBC will no longer give climate science deniers equal airtime as roughly 97 percent of the scientific community agrees that climate change is a real and immediate threat and only small minority of about three percent disagree.
The report is careful to make clear that the BBC isn't taking the position that there's no space for debate or dissenting opinions on the matter.
"This does not mean that critical opinion should be excluded. Nor does it mean that scientific research shouldn't be properly scrutinized," the report safeguards. "The BBC has a duty to reflect the weight of scientific agreement but it should also reflect the existence of critical views appropriately.
Rather, the report stresses the BBC's priority should be to provide science coverage that reflects climate change denial as the minority opinion it is, stating, "Audiences should be able to understand from the context and clarity of the BBC's output what weight to give to critical voices."
Along with striving to correct any imbalance in its representation of the opinions of the scientific community, the BBC Trusts' report was also interested in analyzing and addressing any gender imbalance in the contributors and presenters responsible for the BBC's science content.
"We believe we have made important steps towards improving the gender
balance of presenters and contributors," the report concluded.
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