The BBC has been forced to apologise for a documentary that misled viewers about a New South Wales town after it was accused of being unethical.
Presented by British actor Reggie Yates, Hidden Australia: Black in the Outback copped a lot of flack from residents of Wilcannia after it was aired overseas and made available online earlier this year, according to the ABC.
The documentary focused on alcohol abuse within the town, but Barkindji residents complained that there wasn’t enough emphasis on the positives of living in Wilcannia and the efforts the township was making to address the issues.
One of the scenes featured locals drinking alcohol at the home of Barkindji man Owen Whyman, but did not highlight that the gathering was a wake following the funeral of a close friend and prominent community member, The ABC reported.
A spokesman for the BCC acknowledged that the scene had in fact been edited in a way which was misleading.
“This clearly falls below the standards we expect of program-makers, and for this we would like to apologise,” he told the ABC.
“We are speaking with everyone from [the production company] Sundog [Pictures] involved in the filming and editing of the scene to find out what happened, and remind them of the BBC’s editorial standards.”
Furthermore, Whyman said producers had not gained permission from many of the people in the doco to be filmed, and them that the production would take a positive look at life in Wilcannia.
The BBC said Sundog Pictures told the network that participants had given their consent to be filmed “at every stage”, and were given “a clear understanding of the program’s aims”.
The network had also tried to include positive angles, according to the BCC spokesman.
“The program aimed to show what life is like for the local community, and whilst we can’t include everything we film, the program did feature the work of the youth centre and a traditional hunt,” he told the ABC.