Conniving with violence?

A postscript to our pieces here and here. The BBC has replied to complaints by RDRF supporters with the followingThanks for contacting us about ‘Horizon: Surviving a Car Crash’ shown on 7 February.

I understand that you were unhappy with the programme as you felt that it was misleading as you feel that it didn’t mention or focus on anything other than the car occupants and not on pedestrians or cyclists. I also note that you felt that as we filmed Volvo and their cars that this was advertising their products and is therefore against our Charter.

Whilst I do appreciate your concerns, the focus of the programme was on car crashes and research on protecting the occupants of the cars and not on pedestrian crashes. The programme was allowed access to a research facility and was following their own particular research on car crashes and trying to prevent fatalities within the car and this didn’t involve research into accidents outside of the vehicle.

It’s not always possible or practical to reflect all the different opinions on a subject within individual programmes. Editors are charged to ensure that over a reasonable period they reflect the range of significant views, opinions and trends in their subject area. We don’t seek to denigrate any view, nor to promote any view. We seek rather to identify all significant views, and to test them rigorously and fairly on behalf of the audience.

I can assure you that by visiting and filming the research facility in Sweden belonging to Volvo that we were in no way advertising their products. As you’re aware, we’re prohibited from the terms of our Charter from advertising. Specifically we are not permitted to accept income or benefit financially by promoting the goods of outside companies.

Under the terms of the BBC Charter, no BBC service funded by the licence fee or grant-in-aid may carry advertising. We avoid giving publicity to any individual person or product, firm or organised interest except in so far as it contributes to providing effective and informative programmes. Following research within this facility and referring to the company by name is not advertising because the BBC isn’t involved in the paid-for promotion of external commercial products or services.

I do however fully appreciate that you were disappointed with this programme and feel that we should broadcast a programme that focuses on improved outcomes of crashes involving pedestrians and cyclists therefore please be assured that I’ve registered your complaint on our audience log. This is a daily report of audience feedback that’s circulated to many BBC staff, including members of the BBC Executive Board, channel controllers and other senior managers.

The audience logs are seen as important documents that can help shape decisions about future programming and content.

Thanks once again for taking the time to contact us.

Kind Regards

Claire Jordan
BBC Complaints

Note that in the above “reply”, there is not reference to the point that the “…research on protecting the occupants of the cars” is about measures which are similar to those known to have exacerbated bad driving and further endangered others.  This is about making it worse for other road , both in terms of immediate effects and the longer term effects, including increasing the difficulties of reducing danger at source. That is far worse than just “…not on pedestrian crashes“.

Also, this is not requesting that the BBC “…reflect all the different opinions” ont eh subject, just the one about possible adverse effects which has been well aired for decades.

So much for neutrality and fairness.