June 24th, 2020 Guest Blog post by Angel Garden
The BBC aired their File on Four offering “the 5G Con that could make you sick” on Tuesday 16th June on Radio 4. File on Four is an “Award-winning current affairs documentary series investigating major issues at home and abroad”.
The programme featured well known go-to 5G proponent David Robert Grimes who, egged on by presenter Tom Wright, took a laboured and sneering tone of boredom throughout at having to repeat such basic facts.
This tone matched the context, in which Electro Hypersensitivity Sufferers (EHS) were presented as ‘dangerously’ believing that their symptoms are related to Electro Magnetic Frequencies (EMF). As the programme lumbered on, these unfortunates were eventually presented virtually as a virus in their own right, with the power to infect the world with this belief.
The eminent and influential award winning scientist and writer Dr Devra Davis pulled her contribution to the programme citing concerns about the context: “I refused to participate in the BBC program when it became clear that they had conducted a sting operation by fraudulently inviting me to talk about the science when all they wanted to do was try to make a mockery of the serious concerns many scientists have a about EHS” Dr Davis commented.
Introducing Conflict of Interests
We were led inexorably towards the spectre of conflict of interest, snake-oil salesmen making money off products touted to alleviate symptoms of EMF, which were duly ridiculed as an example of why any criticism should be urgently dismissed.
In a co-authored paper on the dangers of bad research about radio frequency dangers, David Robert Grimes and fellow skeptic Dorothy Bishop wrote the following:
“Conflicts of interest (COI) can distort scientific reporting, and it is important they are declared so that any potential impediment to objectivity by authors be known to reviewers.”
We must loosely assume File on Four was supposed to be scientific reporting, and so should be expected, including by Grimes, to meet this standard.
But before we go any further let’s remember that it is a crime to consume live tv or streamed content without having a tv license.
“Part 4 of the Communications Act 2003 makes it an offence to use or install TV receiving equipment to: watch or record programmes as they’re being shown on TV or live on an online TV service, including programmes streamed over the internet and satellite programmes from outside the UK”
That’s the context in which File on Four omitted to mention the BBC’s own conflicts of interest (COI) in discussing the safety of EMF, given that they are an actual partner in the 5G roll-out.
They are partnering with 5G Rural First: “the BBC has recently been at the forefront of trials and developments of the 4G and pre-5G Broadcast technologies to be trialled in 5G RuralFirst.”
And then there’s 5G-XCast, a “5GPPP Phase II project focused on Broadcast and Multicast Communication Enablers For the Fifth Generation of Wireless Systems” who are partnering with a wide range of European telcos to bathe Europe in EMF.
“A project of this type could not be successful without a large, experienced and balanced set of partners whose expertise covers the complete Media and Entertainment (M&E) value chain” say 5G-XCast, who describe the BBC as existing “to serve the public, and its mission is to inform, educate and entertain.”
Right now the BBC is also involved in a competition called 5G Create partnering with Government’s Creative Industries Council.
“The Creative Industries Council is delighted that DCMS is launching 5G Create. We have been advocating a funded competition along these lines, as an exciting opportunity for UK creative companies to develop innovative products and services using this transformational technology,” said Tim Davie, Co-Chair of the Creative Industries Council and CEO of BBC Studios.
It is noteworthy that the competition is looking for development of products and services – a far cry from “we need 5G because 4G can’t cut it” – they’re actually very busy shelling out (our) money looking for things to do with it.
What non legally risky ways are there to call out this Gordion knot of hypocrisy?
Oversight what oversight?
The BBC’s regulator, OFCOM, state that they have no responsibility to assess the safety or otherwise of EMF even though they are the regulatory body.
“Ofcom regulates the use of radio frequencies by mobile networks. We are not responsible for setting electromagnetic field (EMF) safety levels, but we do test EMF levels near to mobile phone base stations.”
The can is tossed to Public Health England (PHE) who, as usual, toss it back to the very conflicted interests of ICNIRP.
OFCOM are then free to announce:
“We’re working with the Government and industry to help the UK become a world leader in 5G.”
Science-journalism – the 5G hard-sell
Having established the fraud of the whole undertaking, it hardly seems necessary to dignify any of the specific inaccurate statements about, for example the NTP study with rebuttal. The lead designer of the study has already published the study data exposing these conflicted misrepresentations. But why would a programme pretending to objectively assess 5G while hiding the BBC’s partnership in pushing it onto the public, tell the truth about scientifically evidenced dangers?
An example: the casual claim that rats in the NTP study who were exposed to radiation “lived longer” than the rats in the control group, which Grimes suggested might be one possible reason for why they “got more cancers”. How would the 5G agenda benefit from the public knowing that the mean survival for male rats in the exposure group, at 637 days, was five days less than the 642 days mean survival of the control? Or that rats and mice had heart and DNA damage in tests where they were sacrificed at just a few months old, where survival time was technically irrelevant?
If Wright and Grimes were going to drag conflict of interest in, they could have at least informed the public of a new report released by two European Members of Parliament detailing the influence of the telecommunications industry into standard setting “authorities”. “The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection: Conflicts of interest , corporate capture and the push for 5G”
No, the BBC have rightly gauged that the public are much more likely to buy in if the danger is squarely misrepresented by, for example, telling us that the animals were exposed to “wifi signals many times higher than those permitted for humans”. That sounds like a red flag doesn’t it, just like the ‘conflict of interest’ projection followed through the programme to disguise the fraud being perpetrated.
Could the BBC sell 5G more by admitting that it wasn’t wi-fi at all but mobile signals CDMA and GSM, or that the highest level used in the test (6W/kg) is only slightly higher that the FCC public limit, and actually lower than the occupational localised SAR limit? That’s the one Americans are allowed to work in by the way.
What price science?
So where does this leave science, or David Robert Grimes, whose criticisms of conflict of interest are so copious? Are we supposed to believe he doesn’t know that the BBC is using licence payers’ money to implement technology which wireless industry representatives admit has had no independent safety checks, and which Lloyds of London won’t underwrite, citing asbestos and tobacco?
What use is anything Grimes says, or science itself, if so dishonestly employed to promote huge conflicts of interest? It’s so ridiculous, how can such obvious projection fool anyone?
The answer is in the programme’s title: by hiding in plain sight. This programme itself and the whole box of dirty tricks behind it is “The 5G con that could make you sick”.
The astounding number of media tricks pulled in such a short time on a paying public deserves further scrutiny. Even the programme’s pretension to decry conflicts of interest turns out to be conflicted, because the BBC are demonstrably presenting their own reporting as free of such concerns in comparison, when in reality it is anything but.
Wagers are in, frankly, on this being a bench-mark of slick and slimy science-media con-fluence.
The best that can be said is that the programme’s existence supports the allegation, widely made by serious critics of 5G, that the BBC, the Government and it’s conflict-of-interest quangos would sink to any depth to push what is effectively now ‘their’ product, since their fingers are all so stodgily in the pie.