Gloves come off as BBC Scotland is put on notice by SNP

BBC Scotland is failing to carry out its obligations to Scotland and has a flagship TV news programme that is out of date and parochial, according to the SNP.

In a move that signals a toughening approach to the national broadcaster, the SNP has said the station has failed to regain trust it lost due to its coverage of the 2014 independence referendum.

The criticisms are contained in a hard-hitting submission to the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom.  According to The National, the document slams the corporation over its lack of ambition and its failure to invest.  The submission follows news this week that BBC Scotland’s new digital channel is to be delayed until February next year.

Describing BBC Scotland’s flagship TV news programme Reporting Scotland as “parochial” the SNP insists the new digital channel’s 9pm counterpart must target a younger audience: “We understand BBC Scotland’s 9pm flagship news programme will be aimed at a broad audience and look to attract a greater share of the younger audience. Achieving this is vital. With the average age of Reporting Scotland’s audience understood to be 61, this highlights just how different the style, tone and content the new channel’s news output needs to be compared to existing BBC Scotland TV news,

“The new programme must invest money and resource into unique high-quality content; it also must seek to be relevant to the political, cultural and social aspirations of Scotland’s younger and digitally engaged audience.”

The SNP also warned against an over-reliance on the current BBC Scotland online content for any new channel.

It added: “It has been suggested that the channel will be closely tied to BBC Scotland’s website and BBC Scotland’s digital output in order to engage and attract that younger audience. The web news output from BBC Scotland is often just a reflection of Reporting Scotland. It is vital that the new channel commands its own agenda and generates strong multi-platform content for the main BBC website and social media channels.”

The submission also criticisied BBC Scotland for failing to win back trust lost during the independence referendum.  Donalda MacKinnon, who replaced Kenneth MacQuarrie as the head at BBC Scotland in 2016, made winning back trust one of her key pledges.  However mistrust of political output at Pacific Quay appears to have grown.

The submission said: “The new channel’s success should be judged against the public purpose set out in the BBC’s Royal Charter which states the BBC must provide: ‘Impartial news and information to help people understand and engage with the world around them’.

“The BBC’s own audience council surveys demonstrate that trust in the BBC is lowest in Scotland. The BBC itself has admitted that its coverage of the 2014 referendum led to a loss of trust among a significant number of Scots. In effect, many people in Scotland do not feel the public purpose to deliver impartial news and information is always being met in Scotland.”

“Since the referendum nearly four years ago we have seen no evidence of BBC Scotland delivering on its promise to increase the ‘trust’ that it lost. Its own audience surveys two years after the referendum reflect this failure.”

The submission to Ofcom is already being viewed by many pro-independence activists as a sign that the SNP is toughening its stance with the BBC.  Last week former First Minister Alex Salmond admitted he had developed a ‘blind spot’ for the corporation in 2014, believing it would cover the independence referendum in a fair and impartial manner.

The pro-Union coverage led to protests outside the BBC’s headquarters in Glasgow where thousands gathered and demanded balance.  Despite a welter of evidence to the contrary, the London controlled broadcaster has never acknowledged it failed to maintain an impartial stance in the run-up to the September 2014 ballot.

The BBC’s failures led to a book and a documentary, both of which exposed the worst examples of the orporation’s pro-Union bias.  London Calling, the book by GA Ponsonby can be purchased here.  The documentary of the same name can be viewed below.

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14 thoughts on “Gloves come off as BBC Scotland is put on notice by SNP

  1. Ann Forbes

    Re Ofcom – this taken from yesterday’s Guardian

    Latest alleged broadcasting code breaches mean channel has 11 cases pending against it
    Jim Waterson Media editor
    Mon 21 May 2018 12.47 BST Last modified on Mon 21 May 2018 19.24 BST

    RT screengrab showing a report on the Sergei Skripal case
    A spokesman for RT said the channel would work with the regulator. Photograph: RT
    Ofcom has opened three new investigations into the Kremlin-backed news channel RT for potential breaches of the broadcasting standards code, on top of the seven investigations it announced last month.

    The media regulator placed the 24-hour news channel’s output under additional scrutiny after the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury, which has been blamed on Russia.

    The latest potential breaches identified by Ofcom include an episode of RT’s flagship CrossTalk discussion show broadcast on 20 April, which described all of the US government’s potential strategies in the Syrian civil war as “poorly thought-out options”.

    The regulator will also investigate two news items on the channel, originally known as Russia Today, for alleged lack of balance.

    One, captioned “Face of nationalism”, discussed the Ukrainian government’s position on nazism and the treatment of Roma Gypsies.

    The second was a report on the treatment of anti-fracking activists by the UK authorities, which included interviews with Bob Dennett, the co-founder of campaign group Frack Free, and Joe Corré, an anti-fracking activist.

    “We note the new investigations by Ofcom, and will work with the regulator through its processes,” said a spokesperson for the Russian channel.

    An Ofcom spokesperson said RT has historically had an acceptable record when it comes to breaches of broadcasting rules. However, when the regulator began extended monitoring of the channel after the Salisbury attack it discovered multiple potential breaches of the UK code. The regulator said that as a result it would continue to monitor the output for the foreseeable future, given the number of potential breaches.

    An 11th investigation into RT, dating from the end of last year, is continuing into the apparent use of fake tweets by the former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond on his eponymous show.

    Sign up to the Media Briefing: news for the news-makers
    Read more
    In extreme circumstances Ofcom has the power to withdraw RT’s ability to broadcast in the UK for continuous breaches of broadcasting regulations, depriving it of the right to be distributed through Freeview, satellite and cable services.

    However, this would not necessarily be a disaster for the business. RT has delighted in its outsider status, holding up official criticism of its output as evidence that it is speaking truth to power and giving an alternative view.

    Prof Stephen Hutchings, of the University of Manchester, who is leading a research project into RT, said this month that the broadcaster’s future could lie in its successful and unregulated online operation.

    “They would love for Ofcom to ban them,” he claimed.

    1. Robert Graham

      Nit picking of RT while the bbc in scotland pushes out tripe 24/7 .
      the most used word by presenters on bbc scotland is ” BUT ”

      The SNP government has managed to cure all know diseases ” BUT ” .
      you get the Picture its that bloody stupid at times , its becoming farcical .

  2. Jockanese Wind Talker

    I think I have an idea what might have spooked the BritNats.

    “Mark Carney says currency union ‘economically possible’”

    So did Mervyn King:

    Currency Union?

    Maybe in 2014 it would have been the right thing to do at the start (as per Eire) but who will ever know, we lost the referendum.

    But now, in 2018 why?

    Why would an Independent Scotland want to tie her shiny new currency to a basket case currency like the GBP?

    Jim Rogers knows the craic:

    Possibly the BritNats arses are twitching ‘cos Indy Scotland might just say “Keep your currency, we’ll start our own.”

    Imagine UK National debt:

    With no Scottish cash cow =

    Remember McCrone said this of an independent Scotland’s petro backed currency in the 1970s:

    “The country would tend to be in chronic surplus to a quite embarrassing degree and its currency would become the hardest in Europe, with the exception perhaps of the Norwegian kroner.”

    They know we are leaving and they’ll be left neck deep in the shite with a very angry, impoverished population who believed they subsidised the Scots and who were promised that Brexit was going to bring them a share of glory and riches.

  3. Independent Woman

    I regularly submit complaints to the BBC about their news content. The replies I receive can usually be summarised as “We are right and you are wrong”. However, I keep doing it just to remind them we are paying attention.

    I note that the average age of the audience for Reporting Scotland is 61. I would put the average age up if I watched but I want to be alive and voting at the IndyRef2. I don’t want to risk a stroke or heart attack by watching the biased reporting.

  4. Brian Powell

    Like Alex Salmond I had expected the BBC to be informative on the constitutional issues and balanced on the arguments but it was simply a Brit unionist mouthpiece. In 2013 I would never have used that last phrase.
    Then I did my own research and read many different on-line sources, books and academic work. The depth of the BBC and Labour Party misinformation output was staggering.
    They are doing it again over Brexit.
    The BBC is simply corrupt.

  5. Brian

    I hope these are just small beginnings from the SNP. They need to launch an all out war. Only one will be left standing come the next Indyref, and if it’s the BBC/MSM, then it’s all over for independence in the foreseeable future.

    1. Luigi

      Indeed. The SNP and YES movement really has to go on the attack now. Time to put the British Nationalists on the defensive. Being nice won’t gain any more support (or favours from the media)

      Set the agenda – don’t wait and let your enemies do so.

  6. Big Jock

    Jockanese I think you nailed it. The Unionist will be doing internal polling and independence now looks likely.

    They need our oil revenues flowing through Sterling, a potentially very weak currency. They are trying to sell a currency union to save their skin.

    There is no end to their duplicity. I get the feeling things are moving swiftly now. The game is up for Westminster.

  7. Clydebuilt

    For the third week on the trot my Freeview signal gets much weaker during FMQ’s and improves immediately Chin Chin comes on.

  8. Calum Duncan

    22 May 2018


    Dear Mr Duncan

    Reporting Scotland, BBC One, Scotland, 29 March 2018

    Thank you for your email of 2 May to the Executive Complaints Unit about this programme. I’m sorry you were not happy with the response you received when you first raised this matter with the BBC. I’ve watched the programme and considered your complaint against the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines concerning Accuracy.

    You have complained that in a report about Brexit the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was inaccurately reported in the programme’s lunchtime bulletin as saying that those who had supported Brexit would never be forgiven. The words were used in this introduction to a report by BBC Scotland’s Political Editor:

    The Prime Minister has insisted that Scotland can have a bright future after Brexit and she dismissed accusations of a power grab in the row over EU powers in devolved areas like farming and fishing. But at Holyrood the First Minister said Brexit would be hugely damaging and that those who supported it would never be forgiven.

    This is what Nicola Sturgeon actually said in Holyrood:

    We have a deeply divided Tory party that are putting their ideological interests ahead of the interests of the country and for as long as that remains the case then the interest not just of Scotland but the whole UK are going to be deeply damaged and that will be the Tory legacy to Scotland and to the rest of the UK and I think future generations will never, ever forgive them for it.

    The issue is whether what she said can reasonably be taken to carry the meaning given to it in the introduction. At stage one BBC Scotland explained that the confusion arose because of the apparent contradiction between the use of the singular noun “legacy” followed by the plural pronoun “them” but that when, on reflection, it was appreciated that she intended to refer to the Conservative Party rather than all who had supported Brexit, the headline was changed for later bulletins.

    Whilst I agree that, on balance, the meaning later ascribed to the comment is the more likely, it is nevertheless true that there was a degree of ambiguity in her words that might excuse the inaccuracy in the lunchtime bulletin headline. And, as the BBC’s earlier response also pointed out, the Official Report of proceedings in Holyrood recorded Mrs Sturgeon as saying that “…future

    generations will never, ever forgive the Tories for it” suggesting that the official record takers were also aware of a possible ambiguity in what she said and actually changed her words to remove it.

    Overall, I agree that it was unfortunate that an apparently incorrect meaning was ascribed to the First Minister’s comments but given the ambiguity in what she said I do not consider that it amounted to a serious breach of the BBC’s editorial standards concerning accuracy and I cannot uphold your complaint.

    This will be the BBC’s final finding on your complaint unless there are reasons to modify or amend it in light of any comments you may wish to make. If you do wish to respond to this finding, I would be grateful if you could let me have your comments by 6 June.

    Alternatively, if you wish to pursue the matter further, you can now ask the broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, to consider your complaint. You can find details of how to contact Ofcom and the procedures it will apply at…/how-to-report-a-complaint. Or you can write to Ofcom, Riverside House, 2a Southwark Bridge Road, London SE1 9HA, or telephone either 0300 123 3333 or 020 7981 3040.

    Yours sincerely

    Andrew Bell

    Complaints Director. My immediate reply…… “Dear Mr Bell, many thanks for your considered reply. I do intend to respond 6th June, D-Day, and take your responses to OFCOM. That is once I get over the sheer gall of your admitting a lie, and then claiming it was semantically driven!?? Frankly unbelievable, so par for the BBC then. Yours in astonishment, CJM Duncan.”

  9. Cubby

    I have also sent many complaints to the BBC – total waste of time- these chancers/propagandists take it as a badge of honour that they are doing their job correctly when people complain. They never admit their propaganda no matter how bleeding obvious it is.

    They are all propaganda writers for the British State. They have no professional integrity and no personal integrity. They deserve no respect. They all want to go to London (like Torrance) where their masters will give them a few dog biscuits to keep them happy.

    A bunch of lying barstewards the lot of them.

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