Below is the full text of a complaint submitted to the BBC following an item broadcast on Reporting Scotland on March 1st, 2018. The complaint relates to the use of a term ‘SNP Ministers’ by a reporter.
Complaint submitted on March 04th, 2018
On the March 4th edition of Reporting Scotland an item covering the so-called ‘Continuity Bill’ heard the reporter refer to “SNP Ministers” instead of the technically accurate “Scottish Government Ministers”. There then followed an attack on the Scottish government by Ruth Davidson on the issue.
This habit amongst reporters and presenters of using the term ‘SNP Ministers’ or ‘SNP Government’ on issues deemed controversial and that offer an opportunity of attack by opponents of the SNP, is one that is pervasive on BBC Scotland. Over the last few weeks it has been adopted in stories related to Police Scotland, Income tax changes and the OBFA.
The ‘SNP Ministers’ or ‘SNP Government’ terms are never used in stories that may show the Scottish government in a good light. They are exclusively used for controversial issues.
An equivalent term ‘Tory Government’ or ‘Conservative Government’ is never adopted by BBC Scotland reporters in areas deemed controversial or that might offer an opportunity of attack on the UK Government by the SNP. The politically benign term ‘UK Government’ or ‘Westminster government’ is always used.
It is perfectly legitimate for opposition parties to use politically loaded terms such as ‘SNP Government’ or ‘SNP Ministers’ when they see an opportunity to attack the SNP, such is the nature of political cut and thrust. However it is not acceptable for a public service broadcaster to ape this behaviour, whether consciously or not.