Bang Goes the Theory, BBC1, 3 October 2011

Complaint

In the wake of the release of radiation at Fukushima, the programme included an item which aimed to put the number of deaths caused by exposure to radiation from nuclear accidents into perspective. Two viewers (one of them writing on behalf of 55 co-signatories, most of them academics from a variety of disciplines) complained that the item seriously understated the likely death toll (in relation to both Chernobyl and Fukushima) and, by ignoring scientific opinion which favoured higher estimates, failed to treat the controversial subject of nuclear power generation with due impartiality.

 

Outcome

Although defensible as an estimate, the figure of 122 deaths attributable to radiation from Chernobyl was presented as definitive when there is general agreement that estimates in this area are uncertain.  The programme was misleading in that respect, though not to a degree which might have amounted to bias in relation to the arguments about nuclear power.

Partly upheld

 

Further action

The production team were reminded of the essential difference between projected estimates and statements of scientific fact when addressing epidemiological data.