BBC Scotland needs to become “a lot more Scottish” as trust in the broadcaster dips to worrying new levels, according to a leaked internal document.
The memo has revealed bosses are planning a new makeover as they bid to arrest a drop in viewer numbers and, as one senior figure says “a worrying decline in trust in our political output”.
The confidential document warns that unless something is done, more and more people may turn away from the BBC in Scotland and leave a vaccum that will be filled by “the online cybernats behind sites such as Wings Over Scotland and Wee Ginger Dog (sic)”.
According to the document, plans being considered include more traditional Scottish style music serving as the title scores to news and current affairs programmes as well as introducing more identifiable colloquial Scots terms in news broadcasts.
However a suggestion that the blue and white of the saltire replace the traditional red, white and blue on the flagship news programme Reporting Scotland was rejected with concerns that the saltire was “too nationalistic”.
Bosses are though considering a purple tartan-themed backdrop, reminiscent of the Scottish thistle, be adopted.
Presenters from UK network programmes will be encouraged to show “empathy” with Scottish viewers by wearing something recognisably Scottish when presenting items with a Scottish theme.
Other ideas being considered include a brand new current affairs show which would see what is claimed to be “the best of Scotland’s alternative media scene” produce and present current affairs content.
The document states: “The 2014 independence referendum saw the arrival of what some people term ‘the alternative media’.
“As a public service broadcaster we need to acknowledge the significant talent that emerged within this sector and create a platform upon which their views can be expressed.”
The document listed Bella Caledonia, Common Space and Scotland in Union as the three most popular alternative media sites. Those from the pro-independence side being considered as suitable to participate in the new show’s production include Cat Boyd, Angela Haggerty, Jim Sillars, Darren McGarvey [aka Loki] and Mike Small.
Those from the pro-Union media expected to feature include former Labour MP Margaret Curran, former head of news at BBC Scotland John Boothman and ex-Tony Blair aide John McTernan.
According to the document, “Bella Caledonia, Common Space and Scotland in Union are the most trusted and popular amongst their respective supporters.
“It is only right that contributors to the programme be chosen from these outlets.”
On the format of the show, the document said: “The show will not take on the format of debate, but rather will allow each side the opportunity to produce a half-hour TV show containing content they believe will best reflects the views of their side in the constitutional debate.”
A pilot show has already been produced which featured Scottish rapper Loki presenting the week’s political news stories in the form of a rap song. The show, which also featured an item on the ’emerging force of Scottish politics – RISE’, was described by one source who had seen it as “edgy and radical”.
The BBC document warns against allowing the “more extreme elements” from the online Yes community from being allowed to participate, and names “Stuart Campbell, GA Ponsonby and our own former colleague Derek Bateman” as individuals whose participation “might tarnish the BBC Scotland brand”.
Commenting on the proposals, media commentator GA Ponsonby said: “BBC Scotland is already a joke in Scotland. These plans for ‘Brigadoon Broadcasting’ will merely confirm it.”
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