Below is a complaint lodged with the BBC. The complaint relates to coverage on BBC Scotland of an accusation levelled against the Scottish Government by the Scottish Tory party and the subsequent failure of BBC Scotland to provide similar coverage when the accusation was shown to be false.
On Nov 27th, the National Audit Office issued a press release in which it admitted making a mistake in a report it had released to the media thirteen days earlier. The NAO admitted that figures for basic rate income tax payers in Scotland had been overestimated in the report and that this was the reason the report had been pulled on 14th November.
This admission exposed as false, claims made by the Scottish Tory party on 14th November. Ruth Davidson’s party had claimed the NAO had withdrawn the report due to “bullying” by the Scottish Govt. The claim was reported by BBC Scotland in several radio bulletins that same day and also in a lengthy item on the evening edition of Reporting Scotland.
Viewers to Reporting Scotland heard the Scottish Govt being accused of “bullying the NAO to try to coverup the truth”. In all of the news reports the Scottish Govt was heard on the defensive. The accusation and its denial were both presented as equally possible, despite the fact there was literally no evidence to back up the ‘bullying’ claim.
Given the bullying claim was considered important enough to be covered on Reporting Scotland then it is odd that the admission from the NAO, which proved the accusation was false, was not covered at all. The press release from the NAO was arguably a *bigger* story given it both highlighted an error from a respected organisation *and* provided evidence that accusations by the Scottish Tory party had been fabricated.
Reporting Scotland had an obligation to report this development. Yet it did not do so. Those viewers to the November 14th edition who may have believed Tory accusations true, were thus denied an opportunity to have their opinion revised. The result is that a baseless accusation has received widespread coverage, whilst the truth has been all but ignored. The only reference to the NAO admission appeared on Radio Scotland at 19:30 on Nov 28th.
See here for examples of all broadcasts.
Response from the BBC received January 5th 2018
I am afraid I will have to ask you to resubmit this complaint. You have given information which we may need in the form of an URL, which will not open. We cannot accept parts of a complaint to which you wish a response other than in written form on the website or by letter, in each case not exceeding 1,000 words without due reason given for consideration of longer complaints. An exception might be if you provided a link to a BBC online story which was the cause of your complaint.