Australia's ABC suspends presenter over 'Wi-Fi is dangerous' claims

Catalyst's Dr Maryanne Demasi off air, programme under review

Scaremongering image from Wi-Fried
Scaremongering? Catalyst? Surely not.

Australian public broadcaster ABC has suspended the presenter behind its unscientific “Wi-Fried” Catalyst programme that aired earlier this year.

Presenter Dr Maryanne Demasi of the popular science program swallowed wholesale the claims of scare-mongers like Devra Davis and Canadian opponent of Wi-Fi in schools, Frank Clegg.

An investigation by the Audience and Consumer Affairs unit found the program breached editorial standards, and Dr Demasi has been suspended from on-air duties until a full review of Catalyst is completed.

Wi-Fried was unpicked by the broadcaster's Media Watch program in February, here.

The ABC has published the full 31-page report from its Audience and Consumer Affairs investigation in this PDF.

Its correction states that the program “breached the ABC's impartiality standards by unduly favouring the unorthodox perspective that wireless devices and Wi-Fi pose significant health risks”.

The correction also lists significant errors in the program.

The ABC has also removed the program from its Catalyst Website, but for those that are interested in what all the fuss is about, there's always Wayback. ®

+Comment: The investigators worked really hard to give Catalyst the benefit of the doubt. For example, the image at the top of this story was found not to breach the editorial guidelines. Only the most egregious nonsense was sanctioned.

The bad news is that under budget attack, and with a new managing director (ex-Google exec Michelle Guthrie) already wielding a funding knife, the review could well put the entire Catalyst program under a cloud. ®

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