Sky’s Big Brother Plan to “Nudge” Viewers Towards Net Zero

Sky have co-authored a report with the Behavioural Insights Team – AKA the Downing Street Nudge Unit – which uses “behavioural science techniques” to encourage TV audiences to “[make] lifestyle changes that address the climate crisis“. Revealed this week at COP, the report – titled “The Power of TV: Nudging Viewers to Decarbonise Their Lifestyles” – claims that broadcasters “should put climate-friendly actions […] centre stage in all areas of TV content“, especially towards children, because of the “important influence” they have on their parents. Expect to see Peppa Pig tell us all to ditch our boilers very soon.

Launching the report, Sky CEO Dana Strong* said:

“At Sky we have set out our pathway to achieve net zero carbon, but we know this alone will not be enough. Through the content that we bring into our customers’ homes we believe broadcasters have a clear role and responsibility to encourage lifestyle changes that address the climate crisis.”

You might have naïvely thought the role of a news channel was to report the news. Legally regulated broadcasters have an obligation to be impartial, not push lifestyle changes:

 In dealing with matters of major political and industrial controversy and major matters relating to current public policy an appropriately wide range of significant views must be included and given due weight in each programme or in clearly linked and timely programmes.

Sky’s climate advocacy has seen them claim sea levels are rising so quickly that the Queen will soon be swimming through Buckingham Palace – a claim that was patently false. Now they’re suggesting broadcasters should “use kids’ content” to put children off meat and dairy. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the Nudge Unit is partially owned by and run out of the Cabinet Office, which means this report is effectively government-sanctioned propaganda to push a political agenda, something that liberal democracies usually avoid. Governments encouraging broadcasters to use their power to subliminally influence the population is dangerous.

*Dana Strong’s commitment to decarbonising did not prevent her commuting via private jet from America:

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