The BBC has said it would give flat Earth conspiracy theorists airtime in a bid to offset “cancel culture” and showcase its impartiality.
David Jordan, the BBC’s director of editorial policy and standards, said that the broadcaster’s commitment to balancing opinions would mean controversial views could be shared – including factually incorrect ones.
Speaking during a Lords communications and digital committee, Jordan said: “Flat Earthers are not going to get as much space as people who believe that the Earth is round, but very occasionally, it might be appropriate to interview a flat Earther, and if a lot of people believed in a flat Earth, [then] we would need to address it more than we do at the present time.”
Jordan told the Lords that the BBC were at the “hard edge of impartiality” and that much of its editorial battles came regarding gender and race issues.
“We don’t subscribe to the cancel culture that some groups put forward,” said Jordan. “Whether or not some members of our staff like it, it’s not the point. They have to adhere to that too and they leave their prejudices at the door when they arrive. They need to be prepared to hear views which, perhaps personally, they don’t agree with.”
The comments come a day after hundreds of activists protested outside the BBC’s offices to protest how the broadcaster reports issues related to trans people and other minorities.
The BBC has been scrutinised for its reporting on LGBTQ issues, and particularly its trans coverage. The broadcaster was criticised late last year after publishing an article alleging that lesbians feel pressure to date trans women using only a small survey as evidence, which many argued was transphobic. The BBC denied that the story went against its guidelines, and said it was published in line with its commitment to “impartiality”.
The organisation has also been criticised for quitting Stonewall’s “Diversity Champions” programme, which was created to help workplaces create an inclusive environment for LGBTQ staff.