BBC….more news

Remember that what I’m describing are attempts by the parties – particularly Labour – to influence editorial decision-making. I have another incident involving a current BBC presenter who was threatened “with their job” by a senior SNP figure moments before they went live in a studio interview.

If I go back a few years to a General Election a political producer was so harassed by an SNP spad – still operating in government today – that she couldn’t bring herself to vote for them. The experience was so shocking it amounted to harassment and in any other environment would have involved the police.

There is a corruption at the heart of our politics and it doesn’t just land at Labour’s door.

And for those quick to jump to conclusions, I don’t believe anyone at the BBC has deliberately distorted a story out of political bias. Well, I can’t say it has never happened but it would be an isolated case which was so insignificant that other journalists didn’t notice.

John Boothman was acting naively with, I think, wanton disregard for the appropriate professional distance that is required of a BBC executive. The point I’m making is not that he worked deliberately to prejudice output but that in being so close to Sinclair he blurred the line and left in the minds of his journalists a perception that he was less than independent and impartial. Call me naïve but I don’t think he tried wilfully to set a Labour agenda, I think he didn’t have the professional discipline to stay aloof from those trying to influence.

He would turn up at a programme desk and tell journalists that he’d just had Jim Murphy (or whoever) on the phone about, say, defence cuts. He liked to show he was in touch and could network. But what message did that leave in the minds of his staff? Well, first, that he was close to Labour who seemed to trust him. But was he quietly hinting that the programme should talk to Murphy and do the defence cuts story?

In this atmosphere you need to know where you stand and I fear he left enough doubt in the minds of his team about his position.

He never told me to do a story, change or distort a story, take a line or drop a story.

But another problem that has arisen in his time as head is that budget cuts have seriously affected the quality of journalism. The depth and range of presenter briefs – my own area – is no longer what it should be especially on a big programme like GMS. One presenter said to me he was upbraided for not giving an SNP minister a hard enough time in an interview, not out of bias but for journalistic reasons. He said he couldn’t have done so because he wasn’t armed with the ammunition to mount a serious challenge because of the quality of briefing material.

The BBC makes mistakes at all levels and has an almost total inability to recognise how it is perceived outside its own walls. Those mistakes have created an impression of political bias which I totally understand. It has frustrated me and many of the staff inside. But, to cut against the grain for many of you, the idea that there is an anti independence conspiracy is laughable. Literally. Journalists laugh at the very idea.

I promise to explain later in more detail where the BBC is going wrong. But for now you only have to imagine how many people would need to be involved in a conspiracy. In Scotland alone it would be 200 journalists. Can you imagine that conspiracy holding up for more than a weekend? It would mean an editor telling a programme team not to run a certain story. If they felt aggrieved they would object. I would point blank refuse to do something I believed was untrue and politically biased. I would put my job on the line and so would everybody else. There would be an immediate union meeting. Every news outlet in Scotland would hear about it within half an hour and the BBC switchboard would be fire-fighting press calls. There are times when I smell bias too but there is always – almost always – another explanation. That exemption from political prejudice applies to John Boothman as well. He hasn’t been his own best friend at times but I know of no occasion on which the output has been inaccurate or biased at his command. And because he’s married to Susan Deacon doesn’t tell you anything. Do we define people’s politics by their partner? Isn’t that what Johann Lamont did by saying Nicola Sturgeon was married to Peter Murrell and then aggregating their joint income. So what? I think we need to get hold of the idea that the real story of BBC Scotland is about dysfunctional management, poor decision-making, lack of genuine consultation, lacklustre leadership resulting in occasional sloppy and certainly uninspired journalism. Anyone consistently producing or influencing politically biased journalism would be pinpointed and discarded – or more likely moved into management out of harm’s way.  Sorry, but there is no conspiracy

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69 thoughts on “BBC….more news

  1. When (and not if) Scotland gains her independence, what will actually happen to BBC Scotland anyway?

  2. How do you explain no blog comments on Scottish political content?

  3. If there is no conspiracy, why has Isobel Fraser been “disappeared”.

  4. Perhaps you will explain the dichotomy between the BBC’s failings of management and biased people being moved into management out of harms way?

    • For what it’s worth my views on why J Boothman is now in the job he is, has more to do with London needing someone to carry out the swathing cuts, not sure applicants were queuing round the block. Did they even consider his political connections, I do wonder. It’s like an alien land to many of them, a region in the North.

  5. Derek,

    Thanks so much for these two articles. As a former BBC employee, BBC Radio Scotland years ago, I have tried to point out some of these issues, hopefully people will listen to what you are saying.

    Personally, however, as I’ve said previously elsewhere, I don’t think the partner of a senior politician would have been allowed to be in charge of running Millbank, seen to be above reproach and all that. However I don’t think London really cares too much about what happens in Scotland.

  6. The Unionist I know say, that you cannot blame the BBC to be on there side as it is a British Institution, even they noticed

  7. It would be wrong to assume that SNP SPADS are not equally as capable of bullying to try to get their point across they all seem to be a special breed of individual but you will excuse us for wanting to believe that SNP play nicer.

    • If the SNP are doing this then it is as bad as some of the antics of Scottish Labour. If we get independence we need to find other ways of dealing with these issues. Politics has to change.

  8. Elizabeth Fairgrieve

    What has Isobel been doing lately. Has she left the BBC? She is now probably the most talented interviewer on BBC Scotland and has not been on radio or television for weeks. I think we should be told.

    • She is the regular presenter on GMS Saturday morning and sometimes NewsDrive, I understand she just had a week off. She was on air before that.

      • She got taken off the Sunday Politics show, and Newsnight Scotland, very shortly after Iain Davidson accused her of being biased though. Why did this happen? How was someone of Davidson’s reputation able to achieve this? Does anyone seriously think Andrew Kerr is a better presenter and interviewer than Isobel Fraser?

      • @muttley79
        Isn’t it possible she made a choice for her own personal reasons, just maybe. Unless of course you have it on good authority she was ‘dumped’ against her will.

  9. We need balanced reporting and the Media should never put on one politician after another as the first one never gets the right of reply.The Media headlines always seems to be SNP Accused

    • @Albalha

      No, I do not have it on good authority that she was dumped. However, it looks like that to a fair number of people I would imagine. Particularly if you have read the book, Scotland Reclaimed, by Murray Ritchie. It shows the extent of SLAB’s manipulation and pressure on the media in Scotland (unfortunately it appears that some of their opponents in the SNP have latched on to them). Of course Isobel Fraser could have made the choice for personal reasons though.

      • @muttley79
        I’m giving a skiffie of sorts, I realise people believe it was dictated from somewhere else, I have my, well founded, doubts on this one. And sadly the relationship between media and politicians has been unhealthy for a very long time. What ever happened to the dog and the lamp post school of thought.

        None of that is to said to stop a spotlight being shone on what’s rotten but just to sort the wheat from the chaff.

    • Dom – have to agree, not at all sure what the message is from D. Bateman now. To me the bias in the BBC and other MSM is so glaringly obvious I’d have to be blind to miss it.

  10. What is wrong with the media in Scotland that makes us all so sick of them?

    Lies, blatant misrepresentation and ommissions. I’ve kinda lost track.

  11. Not sure that I agree with the BBC not being anti-SNP and Scottish independence. The BBC is the British state’s broadcaster. There is Greg Dyke and John Birt’s comments about the BBC’s obligations to defend the Union. The fact that it took the BBC a long time to acknowledge the SNP’s existence in the way of party political broadcasts. Iain McWhirter has talked before about the BBC’s difficult relationship with the SNP. There is the BBC’s comment that it does not need to be balanced until the official referendum campaign, which is hardly reassuring. There have been remarks made by BBC presenters, such as Sally Magnusson. During the 2011 election results programme, she asked Margaret Curran what are we going to do? Douglas Fraser has called Salmond a dictator before. There is also the infamous Kirsty Wark interview of Alex Salmond in 2007. These things tend to suggest a culture at BBC Scotland of strong support for Unionism. Editorial decisions may not have been biased. However, there also a problem of omission. Why was there no analysis by BBC Scotland’s Newsnight programme, when Cameron announced plans for a potential referendum on the EU? That evening’s Newsnight completely ignored the implications for the referendum on independence, instead laughably Humza Yousaf had to defend the S.G.’s policy! Alastair Darling was never invited into the TV studios to answer questions about this. In addition, the independence rally last month was covered more extensively by Russian TV and Iranian News than BBC Scotland.

    • Hi Muttley

      A load of good stuff here. I’m coming to what is wrong and why some of this looks f***ing awful. But I’ve posted three times today and the kids are off school! I have to go and find them. Patience, mon brave…

      D

      • Thanks for the reply Derek. Your blog is very interesting in terms of trying to understand Scottish politics, and the rather heated times we find ourselves in. I did not mean to put you under any pressure, as I think your blog is a very welcome addition to the referendum debate.

  12. It doesn’t need to be an organised conspiracy. If almost everyone st the BBC seems to have Labour connections, then they can act in the Unions interests independently.

  13. “The BBC is the definitive British national organisation – one of the few remaining pillars of the British establishment and, arguably, of the very concept of Britishness itself.”

    http://www.scottishreviewofbooks.org/index.php/back-issues/2013-03-27-15-25-26/volume-nine-issue-three/569-nationalism-and-the-bbc-george-mckechnie

  14. At last light rather than heat.
    Thanks Derek,look forward to more revelations.

  15. I have respect for Derek, however I cannot imagine that the BBC are ignorant in their output. I, like most people who pay attention, have seen the most blatant bias from BBC reporting, and articles and interviews.

    For just one example, when I wake early I put on BBC Scotland and listen to the Scottish news.
    Sometimes there is something reported that could conceivably be construed as a positive for the Scottish government, this may be between 6-7am. If I listen again at 8.-9am. It is gone, or is altered in a negative way. It is as if someone higher up has just come in to work, heard the report and has said WHOA ! YOU CAN’T PUT THAT ON !

    This has happened many times, and cannot be coincidence.It has been deliberately changed or is missing completely.

    No one who watches interview with BBC reporters could miss the bitterness that will face anyone from the SNP,and how the Unionist lies, and manipulation of facts and figures are reported as fact.
    Sorry Derek, who are you kidding……

    I would like to see the BBC stats on bias complaints, I am sure there will be very many, which makes what you say ring hollow, on this occasion.

  16. Hi Derek first of all great blogg. The problem I have with the BBC is how can it be, and seen to be, unbiased as it merley lifts stories from pro Union rags like the Scotsman and regurgitates them without question? How can one guy at the crowd funded site called Wings sit and take apart these nonsensical daily scare stories, but the largest newsgathering organisation on the planet, cant, or wont. Why did G Brewer demean himself on Newsnight by waving Better Togethers fabricated ”top secret” document to the camera. My main bugbear though is why, after the SNP landslide, did the BBC shut down all comments on its political and business bloggs, at this particular historic moment.

  17. You have to say, it creates a degree of suspicion when RT and Press TV give better coverage of the March & Rally than BBC News. Let’s be generous and suggest that it is editorial judgement that is out of kilter rather than bias. Could it be that the BBC as a whole, including BBC Scotland, has somehow bought the Govt line that independence is not going to happen, so it’s not news?

  18. I tend to agree with Albalha on the subject of Isobel Fraser. She strikes me as being a very professional lady who operates with a high degree of personal and professional integrity. I can’t see her accepting bullying treatment in the workplace. Whatever the reason for her move though, I just wish she’d come back to BBC television. I miss her sheer professionalism. And on the subjecty of Douglas Fraser, when he’s been on the radio recently broadcasting on business in Scotland, I think he’s been very good and even-handed, but he does come across as much less fair when he’s on the television news. Derek, is there a difference between what happens on the tv and what happens on the radio?

  19. What about that odious little man Angus MacLeod who reviewed the papers on your show Derek he never once gave any credit to the Scottish government or the YES campaign for anything. What was his remit?

  20. There doesn’t have to be a conspiracy.

    However, it seems obvious to me that as more people of influence at the BBC have Labour than SNP history and/or connections an inevitable bias will (and has) emerged.

    • Exactly, and this seems to be the point Derek is making. There is no one at Pacific Quay handing down orders that all programmes must be anti-independence – there are simply some god-awful journalists who are incapable of hiding their natural bias, and some even worse management incapable of seeing it.

  21. Derek I’d love to believe you but the sheer weight of pro-union coverage, omission of analysis of unionist screw-ups, ignoring positive indy stories & all the SNP Accused stuff suggests bias. They’d hardly involve you in their conspiracy & it might just be an institutional mindset rather than overt conspiracy, but for me the clue is in the name, they are overwhelmingly unionist stakeholders from top to toe.

  22. Ach well Derek, you had your settling in period, now set yourself for we disputant lot!
    Retirement, the best job you ever had.

  23. Roibert a Briuis

    Tis very simple it is NOT a Conspiracy its is a MINDSET. The way these people (line managers) think and are wired, plus the curse of the 20/21st Century networking the school/University you went to , patronage, coupled with a desire for those under them……. not to rock the boat, do what your manager likes and wants, not forgetting your bank account – you hope to advance in your profession. It is the same in many many large institutions and multinational companies. Being a retired Consultant who even worked on contract for Capita (for the BBC at one time) I saw it everywhere I went Boots, Scottish Power, AT&T, British Gas, Sainsburrys, RBS Clydesdale Bank, The NHS, National Savings, and many many more.

    You don’t have to agree with me of course BUT the EVIDENCE…………..is writ large and clear here.

    You Derek are all the evidence we need to understand that there is a direction in the BBC and that independent thinkers get lent on, are not willing or able to present a balanced view and find their career lies elsewhere. For sure their loss – welcome to the real world.

    The BBC is well past its sell by date and independence will bring, one would hope and expect, big changes in whoever is Scotland’s National Broadcaster

  24. Your insights are very valuable, Derek. I look forward to future instalments. I suspect what we are seeing in Scotland is a local manifestation of a much more general malaise. When I was in Turkey in the summer people were expressing anguish over the discovery that their media had lost the ability or inclination to challenge the abuse of political power. Let’s hope that gaining a better understanding of what is going wrong can help us nurture a brave, independent and diverse media culture which contributes to the maintenance of a healthy and open democracy.

  25. Derek, thank you for both your blogs. The hours you spend on them are very much appreciated and your humour never fails to brighten my day.

    Just one point, whilst you give plenty of space to putting the the Boothman – Simpson relationship into context there is little or no contextualising of the SNP SPAD’s behaviour. Was he/she reacting post interview or trying to influence a forthcoming piece?

    Not that I as an SNP supporter would condone overbearing, bullying behaviour in either case.

  26. I’d still love an explanation as to why BBC Scotland prominently ran the ‘Salmond’s corrupt land deal’ story but then completely buried the even more sensational ‘Johann Lamont was lying’ story.

  27. Derek, while I can understand your opinion on the BBC, I have to disagree about the blatant bias shown by radio scotland in relation to the independence debate. This following is a genuine story. As people will recall Ian Taylors lawyers threatened National Collective after they posted an article linking his company to various unsavoury characters. This resulted in NC pulling their entire website. I visited the site the morning it shut down and started digging around to see why. I thought thst was a great story; the young guns at NC rattling the big beast’s cage! was it reported on the bbc? of course not. Next up was NCs response, getting the camera friendly Amer anwar as spokesperson and running a pres conference. Result, continued news backout from the bbc. On newsdrive Johnny Beattie was running withe the crucial baby ashes story. I texted in, noting that while the baby ashes story was worthwhile, why were they not reporting on the shutting down of an indy website that had a hot story? JB was reading out listeners texts and I am sure he started reading mine as it mentioned the baby ashes story, but when iasked about NC and Ian Taylor, he stumbled and moved on to something else innocuous. I then texted Glen Campbell on GMS the following Friday asking why the bbc were operating a blackout on this story., but reporting on some anti-indy story. no reply needless to say. it took angus robertson bringing the subject up on the floor of the house, for the bbc to deign to mention it. Weeks after the story had atisen.

  28. Sorry Derek as one of those who you may think has jumped to “conclusions”, I remain convinced that the BBC is undermining the referendum debate. One has only to listen to almost any report by the BBC on independence, the Scottish Government or the SNP to detect bias. Newsnet Scotland have an excellent catalogue of articles detailing anti-independence bias by the BBC. I think it says it all, when thousands of Scots now look to foreign broadcasters for coverage of the independence debate. The BBC’s coverage of the March and Rally for independence in Edinburgh was a classic example of our concern. 20,000/30,000 people (police figures) the UK equivalent of 200,000/300,000 people march through our capital city and the BBC all but ignore it.
    If Scotland returns a NO vote next year it will be in large part due to the collusion of the BBC and the unionist establishment. When people are fed carefully crafted smears, distortions and lies they tend to believe them. Pacific Quay has lost the confidence of tens of thousands of Scots,

  29. So why this Derek http://bit.ly/14tap6S and this http://bit.ly/ZXw3Qk and this http://bit.ly/10Wq4va and this http://bit.ly/10rBEly and this http://bit.ly/Yeh9Si there is so much evidence to the contrary of what you know say.

  30. Great insight Derek. Thanks for lifting the veil and giving us a peek.
    I can see where they get all the material for Malcolm Tucker’s character now.
    Can I suggest that you keep any real ‘hand grenades’ for closer to the referendum date as the BBC will be at its foulest and will need ‘dis-robing’ all the more.
    Your blog is a breath of fresh air and a fantastic addition to the (very near non existent ) debate.

  31. What is it when the Queen of Norway is invited to open a building in Aberdeen (designed by a Norwegian architect) and her attendance is ignored and all coverage given to Camilla who, as a duchess, is outranked by the Queen of a friendly Nation? Conspiracy? perhaps not, but a British unionist mind set it most certainly ls.

  32. ‘ It would mean an editor telling a programme team not to run a certain story.’

    Unfortunately with Scotland being the political fiefdom of the Labour party for decades, (until recent years), they don’t need to be told. It’s just the way it is.

  33. In the context of news coverage in Scotland by our TV media it would be interesting to have comparative viewing figures for STV’s relatively new ‘Scotland Tonight’ as against the long established ‘Newsnight Scotland’ I suspect Scotland Tonight is attracting viewers away from the BBC by the shedload.

  34. Derek there may or may not be bias but BBC Scotland gives the average viewer/listener the impression they have stepped into the role of ‘opposition’, Too often , the interviewer takes over the debate , allowing the Labour ,Tory or Libdem spokesperson to sit back smugly twiddling their thumbs, job done..This is a particularly dangerous tract to take as many viewers watch Newsnicht before bed and the vision of David Mundell,George Foulkes , Douglas Alexander or Jim Murphy (interchangeable the guff is the same ) PLUS Gordon Brewers smug mug should have a warning of ‘viewers may find this programme upsetting, with the appropriate helpline made available.Aye Mr Boothman ,wheres your hotline noo ?

    • Independence march estimate 8300, official police estimate 20,000 – 30,000
      Purcell case downplay
      Misrepresenting Foreign Secretaries on Scotland’s EU position..
      The list could go on ad infinitum.and no doubt will.

      There are alternatives to conspiracy or cock-up.

      e.g. institutionalised self-censorship. Ask any Murdoch journo. Ask Murray Ritchie.

      Can you put your hand on your heart and say that any BBC applicant would, under ‘Any other interests’ put ‘I support independence’ on their CV?

      If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, doesn’t matter how it got that way, its a duck.

      Easy solution, lets get the OSCE in to monitor the referendum coverage – simples.

  35. Derek, there does not have to be a conscious or concerted attempt to skew coverage of the referendum for there to be an institutionalised bias against anti-establishment views at the Beeb! I remember watching Andrew Marr interviewing Chomsky when Chomsky implied that Marr was (I’m paraphrasing from memory) little more than an establishment mouthpiece. “Are you implying that I shape my views to requirement” Marr replied. “No” replied Chomsky, “merely that if you had views that were a threat, you wouldn’t be where you are now.” Same goes for BBC Scotland (with the odd honourable exception). Murray Ritchie has spoken of how difficult life could be in the Scottish journalistic fraternity if you were known to sympathise with nationalist views. We saw the sudden gravitational pull in Iain McWhirter’s career trajectory at the Beeb. It seems more than coincidental to me that Izzy Fraser’s profile diminished somewhat apres her ‘doin’ by Davidson. You may not call it a conspiracy, but institutions that are there to preserve and protect the status quo, are exactly that!

  36. Derek you have written great articles on your two blogs. But as an ex-BBC man it will take you quite a while to accept the true colours of the BBC. The BBC and most of its reporters are anti-Independence and are anti-SNP. That is the truth. You will lose credibility if you defend the BBC.

  37. At the very least, a curious self-censorship appears to be going on, and it extends well beyond the independence debate. The BBC ignored a very large anti-austerity march in Manchester last week and the Scottish media in general have been strangely quiet about the participation of Army personnel in a bizarre sectarian party at Ibrox.

  38. I believe that a lack of investment in BBC Scotland amounts to bias. If you have an organisational machine that is not fit for purpose, then you are going to have output that is not fit for purpose. But doesn’t Dereks very welcome insight prove the point that the BBC in Scotland are completely detached from reality, even Derek (sorry Derek, but hold on and let me explain). The whole point of a publicly funded media outlet is to be in touch with public opinion and to understand the audience. I’m a viewer and listener and I see and hear bias. You can attach reasons for the existence of the bias, but if output is unbalanced, then it’s still bias. And if you are a journalist, working for the BBC which is not accountable to the audience (and it defintely is not in Scotland), working within that bubble, then you are not going to get clarity of how you are perceived. See yourself as others see you. Remember the member of the public from Dundee who went to the London BBC right of reply programme a few years ago. The guy from Dundee was highlighting a concern regarding BBC Scotland output and the perceived bias. But he had to go to the BBC in London, for goodness sake! And BBC Scotland refused to address the concerns. The clip is probably on Youtube and the chaps name I can probably find. The point is this, BBC Scotland is not trusted by a considerable number of license payers. In an atmosphere of historical political change, this mistrust needs to be addressed by the BBC. If it is not, then we can make a reasobale assumption that our mistrust is not misplaced.

    • @ Wean, lack of resourcing and concern, nail, head in my view. In the 90’s, when BBC Radio Scotland was pretty good, those at the top were good, and of course resources were in abundance compared to now.
      It’s disturbing just how threadbare the radio operation is now, there’s no doubt TV has not been cut as savagely. Of course, we hear, London will be throwing more cash Scotland’s way for the referendum, what does it mean in practice? J Naughtie shufflles to Glasgow, words fail, and lots of inexperienced people recruited on short term contracts. Of course that allows the Today programme to settle in their new female presenter and Naughtie a couple of days extra at his Edinburgh home around the weekend, he’s presenting on Thursdays and Fridays. Meanwhile in recent months good people have left, let go etc. You have a head of news and current affairs, J Boothman, who doesn’t care about radio and a head of radio that doesn’t care about news.
      So given the lack of leadership in Scotland to make a real case for BBC Scotland, London just cobbles together something to appear to be doing. No regard for quality, they don’t care about that.

      When you have travel people presenting news bulletins, any commitment to quality is well out of the window. The comparison between Today prgramme staffing and GMS is around 3/4 to 1, likewise lunch and evening programmes. I can’t magine a former sportsman presenting the World at One.

      • “When you have travel people presenting news bulletins, any commitment to quality is well out of the window.”

        Yep. I’ve seen one of the weather presenters doing the news on Reporting Scotland on more than one occasion. Now I’m not saying weather presenters aren’t capable people – a quick look at ex-presenter Heather Reid’s credentials puts paid to the notion that weather presenters are mere eye candy – but the idea that the BBC would ever allow John Hammond or Peter Gibbs to present the main news is utterly preposterous.

      • Doug, with respect what are Heather Reid’s metereological qualifications to do withe her ability to be a journalist or vice versa. In the brave, new World of infotainment, sweet FA?

      • Doug Daniel

        I live outside the UK and have missed out on some very good entertainment series on TV; some UK and some French, which I can sometime “catch up” on on French TV, in English, before they are broadcast in the UK.
        I am currently catching up on Boston Legal, which I find thoroughly entertaining and almost real.
        One episode I have just watched (ref if you want) is concerning the fact the US TV News is just entertainment, which makes money for the “Networks” until they have to cover real important and immediate “domestic ” news. It is the American way. News loses money, dog eats harmonica and plays the Star Spangled Banner is ratings.

        So the BBC is all about ratings now?

        I think so.

      • Bugger

        some UK and some French, which I can sometime “catch up” on on French TV, in English, before they are broadcast in the UK.

        Delete French in front of TV and insert UK .
        bUgger!

  39. Tried several years ago, yes the bias was obvious even then, to ask for relative political make up for complaints made. The request was rejected by a Mr Small(minded) in the first place. The request repeated via FOI in Scotland who redirected me to London. Eventually, court cases were quoted and it appears the the BBC are immune from FOI interference despite being funded by the public. Tghe UK Gov does`nt think there is anything wrong with that probably because of their hold on the broadcaster.Currently a former Tory Minister heads up the “Trust”.

  40. Whether the end result is caused by conspirency, bias, groupthink or just being out of touch with what’s going on, the end result is unacceptable. This needs to be addressed. At the moment I do not have the foggiest idea how.

    I am hoping you have some insight on what can be done Derek?

    It is important, nae critical, that we can trust in the information flowing from our national media.

  41. I’m thinking back maybe 23 or so years ago, I used to drop the kids off at school, come back home and switch on BBC Radio Scotland to hear a great discussion programme, presented, I think by Colin Bell? It was really interesting and had experts talking about all sorts of things. These days, I switch the radio off around 8.30 because I cannot bear to have my ears assaulted by the inanity of Call Kaye or the utter drivel that is the Fred McAulay show. Both Kaye and Fred in other incarnations can be entertaining, but I have to say their shows on Radio Scotland – every morning Monday-Friday are an embarrassment.

    • @jeannie
      Looking at radio presenters what you have is a head of radio news who thinks it’s all about ‘TV personalities’, well kent faces. So we have the likes of K Adams, Beattie, McAulay and occasionally Wark, in my view none is a good presenter of radio compared to the likes of L Riddoch, C Bell or indeed his son A Bell. What it has become, is as you say, an embarrassment and it’s clear there is no quality control. Now you have one person presenting a 2 hour NewsDrive programme with very limited resources, it increasingly relies on what’s called GNS output, basically pooled interviews across the whole of the UK, available for prgrammes to take wherever they are.

  42. Hard to believe that a “senior SNP figure” threatened a BBC employee with their job – aren’t BBC employees civil servants employed by the British state?

  43. Are you an just an alligator or a ticking crocodile? Or perhaps an alligator which thinks its a crocodile i.e. in de Nile?

  44. Anyway Derek et al, I’m still up for a defenestration at Pacific Quay post a Yes vote in 2014. I am speaking figuartively, of course; or am I?

  45. figuratively——–Bugger. Now you you why I am so called. I cannot read anything I have written a short while before and thus have let it all pass from the front end end of my brain, otherwise I just see what I thought I had written and not the grammar and spelling mistookks.

  46. I think folk are missing Derek’s point here, or at least the impression I get from Derek is that he’s saying there is no conscious effort to distort the news in favour of Labour/the union. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening anyway. I don’t believe, for example, that Kirsty Wark looks at a news item and thinks “right, how can I use this to get those bloody Nats?” However, I do believe that she is strongly in favour of the union and has too-close ties to Labour, and that this clouds her judgement when looking at a potential news item.

    That’s not a conspiracy. It’s not even a case of individuals actively seeking to promote a unionist line to help their buddies. It’s simply a case of too many pro-union/pro-Labour journalists being incapable of recognising their own subconscious bias, and acting to circumnavigate it accordingly. They’re not actively trying to be anti-independence, they’re just incapable of seeing the failures in their reporting.

    Of course, that doesn’t excuse the BBC from failing in its duties. It just means the licence fee is being wasted on employing incompetent people rather than agents of the British state.

  47. Derek, I think many people here have already made a very strong argument and given very good reasons for why there is no need for conspiracy to be at the bottom of the obvious Union/Labour bias evident in BBC Scotland broadcast output.

    Let me just add that the arguments which you put forward against the existence of a conspiracy within the BBC are very familiar forms of reasoning from within large establishments accused of bias or institutional mal practice.

    As a thought experiment, imagine your words in the mouth of a middle ranking officer in the MET circa 1990’s when responding to the accusation that the Police force was acting in a racist manner.

    Your arguments now , as then, are very effective in first advancing the idea of Conspiracy as the reason and then thoroughly knocking it down with logic (strawman).

    Never the less, the MET was found to be Institutionally racist and such arguments only delayed and increased the injustices suffered by the population served by them.

    Similarly, The BBC in Scotland is Institutionally biased against independence and is using tax payers money to push a political agenda against the will of a large proportion of the population it serves and that funds it.

  48. Last year the #BBC broadcast on @BBCTwo the movie “You’ve been trumped” before @TheSNP October Conference 2012 report. That was deliberate framing the #SNP @scotgov in bad light by @BBCScotland.

  49. A previous girlfriend (of the non-nationalist variety) was quite unequivocal when she said, “You have to be a card carrier (Labour) to get work at Pacific Quay”. She still works there and is unrepentant on that view. There is definitely a Unionist agenda at BBC Scotland and although it partly reflects the corporation’s ethos, some of it is political and personal. The execrable (but highly professional) Kaye Adams is a private contractor who’s had a state owned show named after her. She spends almost as much time in London, covering for Matthew Wright as she does in Glasgow. Ian Dale, the Tory blogger, had her as a New Labour sympathiser, if not an actual supporter. She is part of a team which chooses the daily/weekly subject matter. Much of it covers areas which explicitly or implicitly criticise the Scottish Government. Ms Adams is very keen to cut short any view which deviates from her line. At the end of the day, she is paid very well indeed for her services at the BBC. Being a broadcasting mercenary (and an ideological Unionist?), she will protect her income stream, even if that means subtly spinning, on a daily basis. There may be good numbers of Derek’s colleagues who are people of the highest professional standard and integrity. There are others who are not. Ms Adams falls into the latte category and in that regard, she is not alone.

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