US will not air climate change episode of Frozen Planet

BBC defends decision to give world TV channels the option of dropping the final episode of David Att

An episode of David Attenborough's Frozen Planet series that looks at climate change will not be aired in the US, where many are sceptical about global warming.

Seven episodes of the multi-million-pound nature documentary series will be aired in Britain. However, the series has been sold to 30 world TV networks as a package of only six episodes. These networks then have the option of buying the seventh "companion" episode -- which explores the effect man is having on the natural world -- as well as behind the scenes footage.

The six-episode series has been sold to 30 broadcasters, ten of which have declined to use the climate change episode, "On Thin Ice", including the US.

In America, the series is being aired by the Discovery channel, which insists that the final episode has been dropped because of a "scheduling issue".

Regardless of their reasoning, environmental campaigners have criticised the BBC's decision to market the episode separately as "unhelpful". And it has caused controversy across the board. The Telegraph's headline ("BBC drops Frozen Planet's climate change episode to sell show better abroad") sums up how the news has been received.

However, the BBC have defended the decision, claiming that it is more to do with a difference in style in this episode than its content. Caroline Torrance, BBC Worldwide's Director of Programme Investment, wrote in a blog that the first six episodes "have a clear story arc charting a year in our polar regions", adding:

Although it is filmed by the same team and to the same production standard, this programme is necessarily different in style.

Having a presenter in vision requires many broadcasters to have the programme dubbed, ultimately giving some audiences a very different experience.

Audiences are currently enjoying incredible footage of the natural world; it would be a shame for them to leave without a sense of the danger it faces.

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.