The BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit has upheld our complaint against a BBC1 Look North (North East) news item on the treatment of animals by chiropractors.
The introduction to the piece stated that it is becoming more common for vets to recommend chiropractic for animals. Throughout the report, animal chiropractic was presented in an undeservedly positive light.
The BBC concluded:
The item did not reflect the existence of a degree of controversy surrounding chiropractic treatment of animals, including criticisms that it is not supported by meaningful evidence and has never been subject to a controlled clinical trial. It also failed to make clear that such treatment may only be administered under the direction of a vet.
Programme makers were reminded of the need to take into account the extent to which alternative therapies are supported by scientific evidence, and to reflect this in any coverage by including the views of more mainstream practitioners.
While we welcome this finding, it is also important to note that simply including the views of mainstream practitioners would not be sufficient to ensure due impartiality. Programme makers should also take care to avoid giving equal weight to opinion and to evidence, which would lead to a “false balance”.