BBC denies misleading viewers over polar bear footage

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The BBC has dismissed criticism that veteran nature broadcaster David Attenborough misled viewers over images of polar bear cubs featured in his hugely popular TV series "Frozen Planet".

Eight million viewers in Britain watched images of a polar bear caring for her newly born cubs in scenes shown on November 23 that were juxtaposed with pictures of an adult polar bear.

The fact that the footage of the cubs was actually shot in a zoo in the Netherlands was only revealed in an accompanying video clip on the BBC's website.

The BBC has denied misleading viewers over the footage, claiming that Attenborough's commentary was carefully worded so it did not give the impression that the cubs were in the wild.

It said the way the scene was filmed was "clearly explained" in the programme's website.

"The commentary has been massively misquoted," a BBC spokeswoman told AFP.

"David actually says 'on lee-side slopes' not on 'these side slopes'.

"We are standing by the fact that we worded this to not be ambiguous."

Attenborough, who celebrates 60 years with the BBC next year in a career that has seen him win many awards and the respect of the scientific community, argued that the sequence would have been impossible to film in the wild.

"If you had tried to put a camera in the wild in a polar bear den, she would either have killed the cub or she would have killed the cameraman, one or the other," he told ITV television on Monday.

He said explaining that the footage was shot in a zoo would have ruined the atmosphere of the show, adding: "It's not falsehood and we don't keep it secret either."

The "Frozen Planet" series, featuring footage filmed in the Norwegian, Russian and Canadian Arctic and in the Antarctic, is expected to become one of the highest-selling nature DVDs in history.

© 2011 AFP

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