The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has been forced to ban staff in it’s natural history unit from from making programs until they have undergone a training course instructing them not to fake footage, following the discovery of faked footage in two of their programs.
Both shows were found by the BBC Trust, the corporation’s governing body, to have breached the Corporation’s strict guidelines on editorial integrity as both used ‘fake’ footage to portray events, The Telegraph has reported. The Trust said both examples were a “regrettable result of an individual error of editorial judgment.”
Patagonia: Earth’s Secret Paradise, aired on BBC 2 last year was found by the BBC Trust to have passed off composite footage of different volcanic explosions as a single event; while Human Planet: Deserts – Life in the Furnace, aired in 2011, portrayed a wolf being hunted by Mongolian camel herdsmen. It later transpired that the wolf was semi-domesticated and the hunt had been staged.
Both shows were produced by the same person, Tuppence Stone, who was found by the investigation not to have attended the BBC’s ‘gold standard’ training course due to filming commitments.
The trustees noted in their report: “The series producer was aware of the specialist training course that had been developed…for NHU staff. While she was aware that it was mandatory training, she had not completed the course because she had either been out of the country, filming, when it had been run or, when she had been booked onto a course, it had been cancelled.”
The training course was introduced in 2013 following similar fakery scandals, including that of a 2011 episode of Frozen Planet, voiced by Sir David Attenborough, in which scenes depicting a polar bear giving birth was later found to have been filmed in a Dutch zoo.
Ms Stone’s programs have now been audited to ensure that no other examples of faked footage were present, and the Trust has ordered that no staff may take part in program making unless they have first attended the training scheme.
Their report noted: “As a result of this case, BBC management made a commitment that senior staff working on future projects would have to complete the training before they were allowed to join their production teams.
“BBC management also reviewed past programming to ensure, as far as they could, that all Natural History Unit output complied with the highest editorial standards. Trustees sought additional reassurance, which was provided, that the BBC would ensure all staff currently working on output had also completed the specialist training course.”
According to the Trustees, the BBC’s management has further agreed to review and update the content of the course, and put in place procedures at the start of each production to ensure that everyone involved has been on the course.
A BBC spokesman said: “We note the Trust’s findings.”