DJI, one of the world’s leading drone manufacturers, has formally lodged a complaint against the BBC for a pair of “biased” programs they aired on drone safety. DJI claim the broadcaster included little of the information they provided for the programs, and that the shows were sensationalist by focusing on high-risk incidents like the Gatwick Airport drone crisis.
The two programs in question are BBC Panorama’s “The Gatwick Drone Attack”, and BBC Horizon’s “Britain’s Next Air Disaster? Drones,” that aired on April 15th and July 1st respectively.
You may recall the Gatwick Airport drone drama of last Christmas, which led to hundreds of flight cancellations. This was the focus of the first show, while the second centered upon “the technology behind drones and whether the related UK safety measures are adequate.”
But now DJI’s Director of Marketing and Corporate Communication, Dr. Barbara Stelzner, has released an open letter, detailing the company’s annoyances. She and the team accuse the BBC of failing to “inform, educate, and entertain” the British public on drones as promised.
DJI are unhappy because they feel “little to none” of the information they put forward for the projects was taken on board. As Stelzner explains, “only about one minute of an hour-long programme [Horizon] was given to the multitude of benefits that drone technology has to offer society.” She also alleges the BBC were more interested in “boost[ing] viewing figures by focusing on sensational, high-risk scenarios that are vanishingly rare or almost impossible.”
In the full letter, which you can read here, she goes on to list all of the safety features she believes the BBC didn’t give adequate coverage to, and questioned the legitimacy of some of the Horizon report.
She finishes the letter by stating DJI “would welcome the opportunity to work with the BBC on a ‘Drones For Good’ documentary which would seek to go some way in addressing the balance in a currently extremely one-sided, negative media landscape.”
Responding the very next day, the BBC replied:
From the outset, and repeatedly during the film the positive uses of drones and the efforts the industry has taken to make them safe was referred to. The film does not claim that drone technology is unsafe, but rather that in can be used maliciously when in the wrong hands.
With drones becoming increasingly widely available, it’s likely DJI will face further struggles as more members of the public with little training will cause drone accidents and create bad press.