BBC Scotland accused of cherry-picking bad news from Audit Scotland Fire-Service report

BBC Scotland has been accused of “bias by omission” in its news coverage of an Audit Scotland report on the Scottish Fire service.

The accusation, from a former Professor of Media Politics, follows news bulletins highlighting an apparent £389m shortfall in maintenance funding for the organisation.

On the early morning edition of Reporting Scotland, viewers were told: “The Scottish Fire and Rescue service has a backlog of almost four hundred million pounds in vehicle and property maintenance.

“That’s one of the findings in a report from the Auditor General, she said the funding gap was insurmountable without further transformation and investment.

“The service was formed five years ago when the eight regional units were merged.

“The report warned the risk of asset failure, such as vehicle breakdowns, would increase significantly unless spending is increased.”

A similar report appeared on the lunchtime edition of the programme with the four hundred million pounds figure again dominating.

However the presentation of the Audit Scotland report by BBC Scotland was criticised by academic John Robertson.  The former Professor accused the BBC of exclusively highlighting the most negative aspect of the Audit Scotland findings.

On his blog, the academic wrote: “Missing from the BBC broadcast was any reference to statements 1 to 4 or the opening to statement 5,”

Robertson then listed the missing statements, which are shown below:

  • The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) continues to deliver emergency and prevention services while progressing a complex and ambitious programme of reform.
  • The board continues to work well, with real strengths in the quality of discussion and scrutiny and challenge of management. The board and management display mutual respect, a constructive tone and genuine shared ownership of the issues facing the SFRS.
  • The SFRS has an ambitious vision that involves significant changes to make it a more flexible, modern service. Progress with developing and implementing the plans for transformation has been steady but slow, due to a range of contributing factors.
  • The SFRS has continued to make progress with integrating different ways of working but has not yet achieved full integration. Harmonised pay and conditions for firefighters were agreed in April 2018, placing the SFRS in a good position to complete integration of the service.
  • The SFRS has strong financial management and has developed a good approach to long-term financial planning. It is now in a position to progress with transformation.

Ending his blog, the former professor of Media Politics said: “This is a classic scare story, based on bias by omission, which was likely to be all the more scary given the time of broadcast and the repetition of one negative aspect, from a more complex and balanced document.”

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4 thoughts on “BBC Scotland accused of cherry-picking bad news from Audit Scotland Fire-Service report

  1. John

    Good for John , there needs to be a lot more of us like him , chasing the State Broadcaster up on their biased reporting . No one monitors them , the devious tricks they get away with is staggering !

  2. bringiton

    It is becoming quite noticeable,certainly for me,that when there is bad news about public service provision in England we get an outburst from HM opposition and press pack here in Scotland about how bad things are also north of the border.
    For the uninformed,it appears on the surface that the SG isn’t doing it’s job because they are responsible for public service provision in Scotland.
    Most of the uninformed either don’t or won’t understand that Scotland’s public service funding is set by London and that the Scottish economy continues to be macro mismanaged by the same bunch of people in London who have little or no interest in improving matters in Scotland.

    1. stewartb

      “… Scotland’s public service funding is set by London and that the Scottish economy continues to be macro mismanaged by the same bunch of people in London who have little or no interest in improving matters in Scotland.”

      They have no interest not only because the outcome is seen as supporting their case that Scotland is not viable outside the Union but also they hope to ensure that the SNP Scottish Government fails. Double benefit of macro mismanaging Scotland’s economy: (i) realising a shared wish to destroy the SNP and end the indy threat; and (ii) improving the BritNat parties’ chances of electoral success in the next Council, Holyrood and Westminster elections in Scotland (even if having to be content with the typical UK ‘Buggins turn’) – all with the connivance of the corporate media and the BBC.

      Today’s exchanges in Holyrood following the forecasts for Scotland’s economy from the Fiscal Commission was like watching a slow car crash – the inevitable, progressive closing of the fiscal trap that was designed by the Smith Commission and put in place by the Scotland Act (2016).

      1. Robert Graham

        I wonder what input Fluffy had in the Drafting of the Smith commision document , maybe at the time the scottish government representatives believed westminster would actually follow through with all the promises made that ensured a win in 2014 .

        I think it took a of 10 hours to find out what Cameron had in mind when he uttered to words EVEL , the mask dropped and the pretense ended , then he outlined what we were actually going to get and it didn’t matter if we agreed because we voted NO .

        The biggest con even rivaling the Act of Union was starting unfold , when every single amendment was voted down in the house of ill repute by half drunk english MPs who couldn’t even be bothered listening to any of the debates , and so we watched and heard the Nos have it the Nos have it, that is exactly what a NO vote delivered NOTHING absolutely NOTHING, Well done proud Scots eh .

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