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Impartiality check for BBC science output

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Impartiality check for BBC science output
The BBC Trust has confirmed that it will review accuracy and impartiality of all BBC science coverage as part of ongoing checks on the corporation's editorial balance.

Starting in the spring, the review will cover all news and factual content relating to natural sciences, technology, medicine and the environment, with particular focus on any material linked to "current public policy and matters of political controversy".

Under the Royal Charter, the BBC has a responsibility to cover all controversial subjects with due impartiality. The science consultation marks the third such review run by the Trust, following a business coverage check in 2007 and devolved nations consultation in 2008.

"Science is an area of great importance to licence fee payers, which provokes strong reaction and covers some of the most sensitive editorial issues the BBC faces," said BBC trustee Richard Tait.

"Heated debate in recent years around topics like climate change, GM crops and the MMR vaccine reflects this, and BBC reporting has to steer a course through these controversial issues while remaining impartial.

"The BBC has a well-earned reputation for the quality of its science reporting, but it is also important that we look at it afresh to ensure that it is adhering to the very high standards that licence fee payers expect."

Findings from the consultation - which coincides with a year of science programming across BBC television, radio and online platforms - will be published in 2011.

Last November, Horizon editor Andrew Cohen was appointed the new head of BBC Science to replace the outgoing John Lynch.

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