Jun 20, 2011

WGBH drops Lyme disease documentary over "internal editorial concerns"

Dan Rodricks, a Baltimore Sun columnist who also hosts the Midday talk show on NPR's WYPR-FM, is weighing in on controversy surrounding a documentary set to air on several pubTV stations, including Maryland Public Television. At least one, WGBH, has dropped the program over content concerns.

Under Our Skin: A Healthcare Nightmare, is distributed by NETA from producer Andy Abrahams Wilson. Rodricks calls it a "polemical film about Lyme disease that is built on fear-provoking speculations and assertions while advancing a central message that has been discredited by experts in infectious diseases." The program suggests that tick-borne Lyme disease is an epidemic; the Infectious Diseases Society of America, its main target, disagrees, saying that long-term antibiotic treatment is unproven and unwarranted.

WGBH in Boston dropped the program from its schedule this month. "The decision was based on our own internal editorial concerns that surfaced on closer review of the film," Jeanne Hopkins, WGBH spokesperson, told Rodricks.

"We generally hear audience response to a program after it airs, but we have received calls from viewers about this title already," Joe Krushinsky, MPT spokesperson, told Rodricks. "Some are pleased; others are not. So far, the larger numbers of comments have been on the positive side of that split." Krushinsky added that "no single program claims to be, or can be, a comprehensive look at all perspectives."

NETA told Current that 105 markets have broadcast or have scheduled Under Our Skin.

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