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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

BBC short changes Climate change in overseas sales of Frozen Planet nature documentary

The BBC has relegated the seventh and final episode of the Frozen Planet series presented by Sir David Attenborough to an optional extra. The seventh episode - On Thin Ice - deals with how climate change and global warming is impacting the polar regions and how it affects us all. The final episode is heavily narrated by Sir David Attenborough.

Managers at the BBC decided the series would sell better by making the seventh episode and a behind the scenes documentary available as optional extras which broadcasters could choose to take or leave. Evidently 30 networks across the world have already bought the series but a third of them have opted not to take the seventh episode on climate change and the behind the scenes documentary episode. DVD versions of the series will include all episodes.

According to the Telegraph report a spokeswoman for the BBC said: “In international sales it is normal practice to offer broadcasters the option to take which parts they want, as well as add-ons, such as the one-hour Making Of episode. On Thin Ice (Programme Seven) features David Attenborough in vision as it is his authored show. It would be impossible to do a presenter-less version. Only those countries that accept David as a presenter (and there are many where he is well-known – such as Australia, New Zealand and Scandinavia) could be expected to take episode seven as it stands."

“In the case of Discovery in the USA, they had a scheduling issue so only had slots for six episodes and have decided to combine elements of episode seven, On Thin Ice, with episode six, The Last Frontier. The BBC has been consulted on editorial decisions on this.” said the spokeperson.

In the same report a spokesman for Greenpeace said: “It’s a bit like pressing the stop button on Titanic just as the iceberg appears. Climate change is the most important part of the polar story, the warming in the Arctic can’t be denied, it’s changing the environment there in ways that are making experts fearful for the future.”

In Australia the Frozen Planet series airs on the Nine Network on Sunday. There is no detail on the Nine Network website whether they will show the seventh episode and the behind the scenes documentary.

David Attenborough, until a few years ago, remained a sceptic on anthropogenic global warming, but now says the evidence of it is too overwhelming to ignore. In 2006 he made two documentary programs on Are We Changing Planet Earth? and Can We Save Planet Earth? (See Wikipedia article) In concluding these programs he said "In the past, we didn't understand the effect of our actions. Unknowingly, we sowed the wind and now, literally, we are reaping the whirlwind. But we no longer have that excuse: now we do recognise the consequences of our behaviour. Now surely, we must act to reform it: individually and collectively; nationally and internationally — or we doom future generations to catastrophe."

I wonder how David Attenborough feels about the seventh episode of Frozen Planet being made an optional extra, when the impacts of global warming are very much not optional and will be increasingly experienced by the human population and the creatures that also share planet Earth.

We are facing the impacts of climate change through species extinction and loss of biodiversity, rising sea levels, more frequent and intense extreme weather events, increasing ocean acidification, ever warmer temperature extremes, increasing temperature impacts on agriculture and food security.

And in two weeks time Environment and Climate ministers will sit down together at the seventeenth United Nations Conference of the Parties in Durban South Africa to argue about little details when we face such a huge challenge.


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