Having previously complained to the BBC about their linking to JABS and read with interest the opinions of the author of Lay Science Martin Robbins, I was disappointed to note that the BBC are still linking to the site even now. So I sent in another complaint. This time, I have read the guidelines on impartiality in an attempt to pre-empt any defence of “balance”. Here’s my complaint:
While I am aware that the BBC carries a disclaimer stating that “The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites”, the BBC are responsible for choosing which external sites to link to. I think it is inappropriate to link to the JABS website (jabs.org.uk) in stories on vaccination, as the information on this site is not reliable. I have complained about the BBC linking to JABS before and was told that “I am afraid that in the interests of balance we must link to Jabs.” Having today seen yet another article on the BBC’s website that links to JABS, I have now looked at the BBC guidelines on impartiality (achieving impartiality) and note that they include this point: “It does not require the representation of every argument or facet of every argument on every occasion or an equal division of time for each view.” Given that the BBC’s own guidelines state that impartiality does not require them to represent every argument or facet of argument on every occasion, can the BBC please stop linking to the inaccurate and unhelpful JABS website when publishing stories on vaccination? While the “MMR vaccination and autism” story may once have been controversial, this is no longer the case – the hypothesis that MMR vaccination causes autism has been discredited – so I do not believe that the BBC’s guidelines on controversial stories still apply (“We must ensure a wide range of significant views and perspectives are given due weight in the period during which a controversial subject is active”, controversial).
Here is the article which links to JABS: Autism rates back MMR jab safety.