A listener who complained about the lack of coverage on a flagship BBC Scotland news programme has been told to “buy a fish supper” if he wants to read “yesterday’s news”.
The listener, Michael Maloney, had complained that morning news programme Good Morning Scotland had not covered a key Brexit vote that took place in the Scottish parliament.
The vote resulted in MSPs backing a so-called ‘People’s Vote’ on any final Brexit deal. Scottish Green MSP Patrick Harvie tweeted: “Tonight the Scottish Parliament has voted 66-28 in favour of a #PeoplesVote. Scotland should not be dragged out of Europe against the clear public will, and the case is growing for this final chance to stop the mess and cancel Brexit.”
The lateness of the vote, which took place at 5pm, meant coverage was muted across the Scottish media. Many people expected BBC Scotland’s flagship morning news programme to provide indepth analysis and include the story in its morning news bulletins.
However the programme, rather surprisingly, all but ignored it, instead focusing much of its output on a think tank report and coverage of a three day old story related to Celtic Football Club.
The lack of coverage of the Holyrood vote prompted Michael Maloney to post the following tweet: “Isn’t it strange @BBCGaryR for the headlines to lead on a think tank report and not even mention yesterday’s parliamentary support for a People’s Vote?”
Good Morning Scotland presenter Gary Robertson defended the lack of coverage by claiming the story had been covered the previous day. The presenter highlighted an online article that BBC Scotland had published on its website.
Despite the significant nature of the vote, which saw Scottish Labour MSPs abstain, the flagship morning news programme failed to cover it in any of its news bulletins. The only mention of the vote came in a very brief item just after 08:30, which lasted 56 seconds.
The suggestion from Robertson that the programme doesn’t cover news stories that have been covered the previous day was called into question by the story that dominated GMS headlines that same morning. The Brexit based story centred around UK Govt ministers and a so-called draft EU deal. Despite having been widely covered the day before by the BBC, the issue was repeated on Good Morning Scotland news bulletins and featured in the coveted 08:10 interview.
Suggestions that GMS does not normally cover stories that break the previous day is not borne out by evidence, with scores of examples showing the opposite to be true. On October 22nd GMS ran news bulletins and in depth analysis interviews based on comments from UK minister Dominic Raab the day before.
That same morning the programme ran news bulletins and interviews with the Scottish Fishing Federation based on comments made by Tory MP Douglas Ross the day before.
Robertson’s defence of the lack of coverage of the Holyrood vote prompted a BBC Scotland colleague to post a mocking reply to complainer Michael Maloney.
David MacDougall, whose twitter profile lists BBC Radio Scotland amongst media outlets he works for, tweeted: “If @michael_mooney wants yesterday’s news might I suggest he buys a fish supper.”
Responding, Mr Maloney tweeted sarcastically: “Good Morning Scotland reported on this yesterday? How did I miss that? It must be tricky, only being able to report on things which happened overnight. I wonder if there are any counter examples of things which happened yesterday that you report today?”
The refusal to provide adequate coverage of a Brexit related debate at Holyrood follows a similar pattern on other BBC Scotland news programmes. There is evidence to suggest the flagship evening news programme Reporting Scotland employs a similar agenda which sees Brexit related stories ignored or played down.
Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, BBC Scotland chiefs insist their political output is fair and impartial.
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