Controversy over the promotion of ear seeds and acupuncture as a recovery aid for ME on Dragons’ Den has led the BBC to edit the program and add a clarification.
The episode of the 20-year-old business format was removed from BBC iPlayer earlier this week following a backlash to Giselle Boxer’s Acu Seeds business pitch, which received £50,000 ($63,000) investment in exchange for a 10% investment in the company.
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Now, the BBC has said the show has been returned to iPlayer but “edited since broadcast to clarify aspects of the Acu Seeds pitch.”
A note on iPlayer says “advice should always be sought from a qualified healthcare provider about any health concerns.”
Having received complaints about the pitch, the BBC clarified that the ear seeds were “never described as a cure for ME” and said “Dragons’ Den does not, and has never, set out to offer medical advice, and we believe its audience understands this.”
The episode drew an angry response from campaign group Action for ME, which sent two letters to chairs of UK parliamentary committees expressing concern that the “way in which [Boxer’s] pitch was presented on Dragons’ Den suggests that this product was responsible for her recovery and should therefore be considered an effective treatment.”
Furthermore, The Times reported on a letter from academics to BBC Director General Tim Davie that highlighted other instances of claims that required debunking, including an appearance in the same episode from the founder of a cacao company who claimed that his drinks had “healing properties” and helped him when he was “suicidally depressed”. Another example of a psychic business that uses crystals to “purify blood” was also floated, which took place in a different episode.
In Dragons’ Den, produced by BBC Studios, contestants pitch business ideas to a quintet of ‘dragons’ who then have to decide whether to invest and what stake in the business they will take in return. The show airs under the title Shark Tank on ABC in the U.S.
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