A Tory minister has lashed out at the BBC over its coverage of climate change, claiming it gives too much prominence to sceptics.
Greg Barker suggested “the sceptic press” often used research that had not been peer-reviewed to bolster its position and accused the “Sunday newspapers” of presenting comment as science.
But the climate minister honed in on the way the publicly funded BBC still focused on the “sterile” debate over whether it existed when most scientists are firmly in one camp.
He told the Science and Technology committee: “In the case of the BBC they have a very clear statutory responsibility. It’s in the original charter to inform. I think we need the BBC to look very hard, particularly at whether or not they are getting the balance right.
“I don’t think they are.”
He added: “I think there is too much focus on trying to stimulate an increasingly sterile debate on the science, given the overwhelming body of opinion that there is now in favour of the science, and perhaps if they are wanting to have an active debate they should be talking about the policy responses to that science, rather than the science itself.
“I’m not trying to ban all dissenting voices but we are doing the public a disservice by treating them as equal, which is not the case.”
Mr Barker said: “I think that appetite for fairness or a counter-opinion gives a disproportionate idea to the public that the sceptic view is perhaps more legitimate, or more widely held is perhaps a better way of putting it, than it actually is.”
He said there was “no departmental view” on whether reforms to press regulation should play a role in ensuring incorrect coverage was challenged but said it was “extremely frustrating” to see reports he believed were misleading.