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BBC cans Planet Relief special

'Concept might breach impartiality guidelines'

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The BBC has decided to can a planned Planet Relief TV special on climate change following senior executives concerns that it "might breach impartiality guidelines".

According to Auntie, the concept surfaced about 18 months back as a "climate change counterpart to programmes such as Live8", and was pencilled for a January 2008 screening. However, "against the backdrop of intense internal debates about impartiality, senior news editors expressed misgivings that Planet Relief was too 'campaigning' in nature and would have left the Corporation open to the charge of bias".

Newsnight editor Peter Barron declared at the Edinburgh Festival last month: "It is absolutely not the BBC's job to save the planet." Head of TV news Peter Horrocks chipped in on the BBC News website's editors' blog with: "It is not the BBC's job to lead opinion or proselytise on this or any other subject."

Viewers will not now be able to enjoy celebs such as Ricky Gervais - said to have expressed interest in fronting the extravangaza - while the National Grid will be relieved that a planned "mass temporary 'switch-off' of electrical equipment" has itself been unplugged.

The BBC apparently spent a year negotiating the planet-hugging stunt, but engineers feared it "might overload parts of the network".*

Environmental campaigners, meanwhile, are pretty cheesed off with the decision. "Activist and writer" Mark Lynas thundered: "This decision shows a real poverty of understanding among senior BBC executives about the gravity of the situation we face. The only reason why this became an issue is that there is a small but vociferous group of climate 'sceptics' lobbying against taking action, so the BBC is behaving like a coward and refusing to take a more consistent stance." ®

Bootnote

*We assume it's turning all that kit back on again at the same time that's the problem. Solution: leave it turned off and go the pub. Sorted.

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