Thursday 22 March 2018

Colum Kenny: Why a little white false impression does matter

It is in the BBC and RTE's interest that viewers can trust what they see on television, writes Colum Kenny

Colum Kenny

Colum Kenny

It has been another great TV series, popular with young and old alike. So does it really matter that the BBC gave viewers the false impression that every bit of its Frozen Planet series was shot in the wild? Yes it does. It was revealed last week that its pictures of cute polar bear cubs being nursed underground were actually shot in a man-made den in a Dutch zoo. This matters because apparent fakery can be used by critics to attack the BBC itself.

In the same way, RTE's grave failure of judgment in respect of its treatment and defamation of Fr Kevin Reynolds was last week used by its competitors to attack that station. Publicly owned TV stations set an industry standard. If we cannot trust them, then what stations can we trust? RTE's internal guidelines for programme-makers insist that: "It is important when viewing and listening to News, Current Affairs and Factual programming that the public believes in the authenticity of what they see on the screen and hear on the radio. When reconstructions are necessary as part of the narrative of programmes, they must always be identified as such."

David Attenborough's Frozen Planet is the latest in a sequence of stunning nature programmes from the BBC that have captured the beauty of this Earth at a time when it is threatened by climate change and overpopulation.

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