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24 September 2014
Science & Nature: TV & Radio Follow-upScience & Nature
Science & Nature: TV and Radio Follow-up

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Horizon: Atlantis Reborn and
the Broadcasting Standards Commission

On 4th November 1999, BBC TWO broadcast Horizon: Atlantis Reborn, a documentary that looked at the theories of best-selling author and television presenter Graham Hancock, supported by author Robert Bauval, about the existence of a lost civilisation. In this film, Horizon journeys across the world to examine their evidence and put their controversial theory to the test, pitting their claims against cutting edge archaeology and astronomy.

Subsequent to its transmission, Mr Hancock and Mr Bauval both complained to the Broadcasting Standards Commission (BSC) that they had been treated unfairly in the programme. Mr Hancock's complaint consisted of eight distinct issues, and Mr Bauval's consisted of two.

In November 2000, following a hearing where both sides presented arguments, the Commission published its conclusion that "the programme makers acted in good faith in their examination of the theories of Mr Hancock and Mr Bauval". It found some unfairness on only one issue, which had been raised by both Mr Hancock and Mr Bauval. The Commission thought the programme should have included an argument they had put forward to rebut a criticism of one aspect of one of their theories.

Horizon offered to transmit a revised repeat of Horizon: Atlantis Reborn immediately following the transmission of a summary of the adjudication. Mr Hancock and Mr Bauval welcomed this offer, and the Commission accepted it. Horizon will ensure that the revised repeat takes full account of the one point on which the Commission found some unfairness.

Though the Commission found some unfairness in our treatment of one aspect of the debate, this cannot be interpreted as support for Mr Hancock's or Mr Bauval's theories. The Commission made no judgement on the evidence for and against those theories, and did not cast doubt on Horizon's scientific assessment of it.

Read a synopsis of the BSC’s adjudication

'Atlantis Reborn Again' programme page