Just another body out the door….

Can I first say a word about the blog. Yesterday it seems there were 7500 views on this blog alone and I’ve had a rake of email, likes and follows. What a response. If this were the BBC, I would be issuing a press release to say it shows just how popular the corporation is. Some of the comments are strikingly perceptive, some are so close to what I regard as the reality of BBC Scotland that it’s scary and some of you sound as if you are or have been inside the Beeb. If I had to pick out one feature that gives me most satisfaction it is the large number of women responding (as far as I can tell from email addresses). I estimate between 35 and 40 per cent of contacts are from females. I thought the standard view was that women weren’t as supportive of independence so perhaps you’re all just reading in order to disagree! Anyway, that makes me proud. (Also the sister blog made the Scotsman today who reported my satirical pieces on Jim Naughtie almost as though they were fact…describing them as “an attack” on him. You can’t even take the piss these days.)

Again I say, I didn’t mean to do this. My plan was to put out my own thoughts as boldly as I can and not be distracted. But such has been the online reaction and the thoughtful and – for me – challenging questions, that I’m letting you decide the agenda and will address as many points as I can. I did say at the outset that we needed to take the debate away from the politicians and give it to the people, after all.

I must ask that you understand my reluctance to speak in detail about individuals. They were colleagues, many are friends and none joined the BBC with anything other than a desire to do their best. They are not evil conspirators, they are men and women who believe in the BBC and with some of whom I have shared a freezing picket line. They don’t go to work to conspire, lie or deceive and when we talk about the journalists, I believe they are responsible, more than anyone else, including management, for keeping the BBC true to its founding principles. I don’t exonerate bad journalism, but I do know how hard it is sometimes to create it in the modern BBC and there are very few in the newsroom who don’t spend part of every day heaving a boulder of some sort up a hill. If you’re looking for culpability, turn your eyes to the management floor.

John Boothman was also a colleague for many years going back to the late 80’s and while I am determined to speak up, it still stings me personally to expose him. I do so because complaining internally is proven to be useless and because when you reach executive level certain protocols are required, certain behaviour is expected.

He has executive authority to affect the lives of staff and when that is used as ruthlessly as he has in ending the careers of friends and colleagues, he loses the right to loyalty. I personally have affection for him but he has to realise it took a herculean effort on my part when he pushed through the removal of  my own wife from the BBC. She left a 20-year career behind when she was targeted for redundancy, chased from one role to another until she was forced to agree a deal to leave. The personal testimony of staff put through an agonising process of accelerated redundancies when the rest of the BBC was deploying natural wastage, is hair-raising and distressing.

If this were any other public organisation, the BBC would set its investigation team on BBC Scotland to expose the heartless and ruthless staff selection and eradication process used and which is still threatening to cause a UK-wide BBC strike over one member of staff they refuse to redeploy.

By the way, you may be interested to read a section of my earlier post on John Boothman that I deleted before publishing because it made the piece too long. It refers to his time as a political producer in the 80’s and 90’s.

Remember, this was when Labour ran everything in Scotland and Labour was the story from the top of the Labour Opposition at Westminster, through the Scottish party, to local government. In those long years of opposition and into the Blair period, there was no better source for names, numbers, thumbnail profiles, union connections, love-hate relationships and likely position on issues than John Boothman. He also knew personally most of the people of whom he spoke. He had an unrivalled ability to put together political programmes at speed which met the BBC’s exacting standards of balance and impartiality. He also found ways to get news stories out of those programmes. I would say the Thatcher years were his heyday with the Labour party a ferment of frustration over the poll tax, devolution and of course, the inevitable internecine rivalries as they fought over what they assumed to be their own reserved domain – Scotland. As journalists, we all made a living writing about Labour.

John Boothman was a clear asset to the BBC at that time because of his Labour connections. They were key to his career and were valued by all. He had the respect of all sides throughout his career as a producer. But I felt from the outset that in the febrile air of today’s Scotland with so many political knives being sharpened, it was a risk to appoint as head of news some one around whom the perception of affiliation hung. But then MacQuarrie and his team aren’t concerned about perception or indeed quality of programme content. They were interested primarily in appointing someone to deliver their budget cuts and John Boothman was their man.

It may be unkind to say so, but like many before him, I think he was promoted to roles that didn’t suit him. He was and remains essentially a damn good political producer. Ask Iain Macwhirter. But I know of no-one who regarded him as a manager. He had no recognisable organisational ability and lacked people skills, both essential for management. I once asked his predecessor as head of news what John was planning for radio coverage of an election. “Don’t know,” he said. “It’s all in Boothy’s heid.” That summed him up. Effective management has to be more than a stream of consciousness.

If all that’s heavy stuff, here’s a lighter note about BBC Scotland management under Kenny MacQuarrie. When I was about to leave, I received an email from the new Director General Tony Hall, thanking me for 20 years presenting news programmes and wishing me a happy retirement. Wow, I thought, the DG. I’d never even met him. I reckoned he must have been tipped off by senior management at Pacific Quay who would know I was about to leave.

I mentioned this to one of my producers and he said: “No, no. It wasn’t BBC Scotland managers who told him. It was me”.

He was regularly in touch with the DG’s office through working for the union and had tipped off the DG’s secretary…hence my email. So it was my own mates in the newsroom, not the management, to took the trouble to ensure my departure was marked at the highest level. John Boothman bade me farewell in front of the staff but to this day, three months later, I never have received a note of farewell from the Director of BBC Scotland, his deputy or the Head of Radio. They must be glad to see the back of me. In fact, I don’t think they’ve noticed that I’ve gone – someone said my face still appears on the website as being on the staff. But I think it says something, that the senior bosses are so cocooned in a corporate bubble that one of their main presenters of 25 years standing can leave without the boss’s acknowledgement. Just another body out the door….

So to the emails and a common theme is the question: What happened to Isabel Fraser? As I said, these are friends and I have no locus to speak for her. Her private arrangements with her employer are between the two of them. She won’t appreciate being dragged into this blog but I know of no evidence that her coming off the telly is linked to the Ian Davidson interview.

However Issy’s situation is revealing in a wider sense. Why does this question about her keep coming up? Because the BBC doesn’t inform its audience of what it is doing. Here is an outstanding broadcast personality, whose work is admired and respected – even the apelike rudeness of Davidson is a badge of honour for her – and who has a following. Suddenly she disappears from the screen and all those people the BBC is so keen to count as viewers are left wondering why. Why don’t they put up a statement on the website at such times telling viewers that she won’t be on screen and giving an agreed statement why the decision was made and pointing out that she can still be heard on GMS on a Saturday? In the absence of such clarification, rumours grow and the poor woman is seemingly now the subject of a unionist plot, all of which rebounds on the BBC itself.

This failure to communicate – it is only the biggest communicator in the world after all – is an extraordinary feature of the corporation. They don’t understand that people care about the faces and voices that bring the news into their home and car. But of course, the thinking now is that all presenters are interchangeable, each one able to do another’s programme and that the audience doesn’t care.

There was no guidance from the Head of Radio or the Head of News about informing listeners that I was going either…no word about how it should be handled on air and how we tell the audience. Management just don’t think it matters, taking the listeners for granted. When there are 100,000 listeners, many of them loyal, isn’t it dismissive not to take the trouble to tell them the presenter who has been there for seven years is to be replaced? Don’t they want listener loyalty? All this points in the direction of Jeff Zycinski, the Head of Radio, responsible for the dumbing down of quality radio to the stage where no educated Scot takes it seriously as once they surely did. (More on him in coming weeks).

The main theme of course is of anti-SNP and anti-independence bias. I will not dispute that this is a clear perception and that I too experience it. So what is going on? As I said in a previous post, it isn’t a conspiracy because I would have been part of it.

But, as some of you have observed in emails, this is first of all an issue about ethos. It is about the collective mindset of an organisation. The BBC was founded in the glory days of the Union and for most of its life enjoyed uncritical acceptance. It mirrored the British state and was headquartered in London. (It would be simply unthinkable to move the HQ from the hub of power and cultural life in an exact replica again of Britain itself. We must all acknowledge the automatic place of London at the pinnacle of British society.) That is how the BBC is structured.

It has gradually beefed up the outlying centres on its spokes – the Nations and Regions – but there is never a moment’s doubt about where the power lies. This line of command is evident in every aspect of operations. When London decides budget cuts are needed, Scotland swiftly agrees and sets about implementing. There is no co-ordinated attempt to stave them off or argue for reduction. If there was, the Director would consult privately with staff and union representatives to enlist their support to fight back. He doesn’t. He would – again privately – brief the First Minister who is his single biggest external asset. Having the FM on board brings a challenge to London from a completely different angle…one they cannot ignore. But I know there is no on-going relationship between MacQuarrie and Salmond which would make this possible. MacQuarrie has failed to nurture his strongest contact in Scotland. Right there, you have a major strategic failing in the Director’s armoury.

The evidence for this came after the first election of the SNP government when the BBC in London  responded by throwing millions at Scotland in additional funding. And then, when the SNP took a decision to step back from confronting the Beeb over its investment and coverage because it didn’t want to make an enemy of a popular organisation, what did the BBC do? They cut the money coming north as soon as the pressure was off.

Again this is a mirror image of Britain at work. Without the SNP on the rise, nothing happens.

At my own level, the pre-eminence of London was displayed whenever we had to work with a network programme. The London staff treat the rest with contempt, disrupting their bookings, taking over their studios and guests, demanding first call on everything. The rules give them the right to do this. I was forced out of a studio in Belfast moments before going live for Radio Scotland when a network correspondent and his producer barged in and demanded the studio for Radio Four although we were both guests of BBC Northern Ireland.

If you want to get on in the BBC, you go to London so the talent drains south. Sound familiar? If you return, it’s assumed you must be more talented than those who didn’t decamp. Many a failure in London has occupied a plum post in Scotland.

The BBC is British down to its bootstraps and the staff know it, especially the managers whose real skill is in managing upwards, i.e. doing their London master’s bidding whatever mayhem it costs down the line in Scotland.

I think the point is that BBC Scotland is a misnomer. It is independent in structure – with its own management – but not independent in operation. It becomes rather obvious then that it is unlikely to reflect accurately the real Scotland when its allegiance lies elsewhere.

Only a robustly independently-minded boss backed by an equally bloody-minded management team and editors with clear instruction to frame a news agenda and programme output to reflect the views of Scots irrespective of the London perspective, could come near to achieving this under the current arrangements. They would have to play a game of Bugger-it and put their jobs on the line when London objected. Likelihood? Zero.

What happened to the last Scotland Controller – Alastair Hetherington – who demanded more financial autonomy? Sacked by London.

So, without thinking about it, much of what the BBC puts out in news and current affairs terms is disseminated against this pro-British background. The analysis for example is always likely to infer Scotland-within-Britain because that is the current reality. It is also a reality that the evidence shows a clear majority here favour that remaining so. This is reflected in the tone and attitude of BBC Scotland output.

Without a separate Scottish broadcasting service this inbuilt bias will never be eradicated.

(I’m going to stop for while to have a massage and continue later…)

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0 thoughts on “Just another body out the door….

  1. Enjoy your massage Derek, I’m sure your shoulders need it!

    Thanks again

  2. Great stuff.

    ‘John Boothman bade me farewell in front of the staff but to this day, three months later, I never have received a note of farewell from the Director of BBC Scotland, his deputy or the Head of Radio.’

    Check for anthrax spores if you get one now.

    ‘In fact, I don’t think they’ve noticed that I’ve gone.’

    I’m pretty sure they’re now aware you’re off reservation!

  3. Fascinating insights. Thank you. I feel the need to disseminate!

  4. Don’t take too long Derek, your public awaits!

    This is some of the most fascinating stuff I have read. You could have made an absolute killing writing this in a book and getting it serialised in a newspaper, yet you’re giving it to us all for free. What a guy!

  5. Great post. BBC Scotland management still thinks of London as the superior, and it as the humble vassal. It’s the BBC in Scotland – not of Scotland. Roll on the SBC!

  6. John Boothman’s style owes much to Göebles propaganda. A proud ‘balanced’ network has allowed itself to be politicised. Purcell et al (wonder when BBC digital is ‘hived’ off to SKY). Is not Sally Magnusson a fully trained journalist? – why do we (in Scotland) need to re-import a London Scot for guidance. Isobel Fraser … no need to expand – we have the talent.

  7. BBC Scotland the extended voice of London

  8. For me, re Boothman, there is and was a problem with someone being so close to any one political party. I am of the view that journalists and politicians should be as dog to lamp post, particularly at the BBC. He may well have good contacts, still no excuse, imo.

    And yes the BBC is London centred, a British institution. Though I often wonder if the very well funded Lesley Riddoch programme was still on air AND there was decent management how different the daily radio debate in Scotland would be.
    (I have no respect for TV news so have never expected much from them, not an excuse for its failings of course.)

    Discussions were well researched, the programme travelled around the country with the mobile studio (wonder what’s happened to that), and indeed outside of Scotland.

    Clearly we need an SBC in an independent Scotland but that things have been allowed to degenerate so badly in the last 10 plus years is wholly and squarely to be laid at the door of, as you say, dysfunctional management not willing to put any case at all, it appears for Scottish broadcasting within the current London dominated BBC.

    I look forward to the post on the Head of Radio.

  9. “I don’t think they’ve noticed that I’ve gone – someone said my face still appears on the website as being on the staff.”

    Careful Derek – first check your bank balance to see if your salary is still rolling in before giving info.

  10. David Milligan Lvss

    Derek, you may have done your country a great service by opening up like this. The BBC in Scotland have been responsible for doing a great deal of unwarranted damage to those that wish to broadcast the positive message about an independent Scotland. Their output has descended to tribalism on so many occasions which has left the message torn apart by party politics. To show that this was indeed part of an agenda on the part of the Labour Party with Mr Boothman as a willing participant helps immeasurably.

    I am one of the people who doubts the accuracy of the polls and listens to the “chatter” of the grass roots campaign for Scottish independence. That chatter tells me that the yes vote is taking the lead and there is other evidence to support it. When Scotland sets up a national broadcaster of its own, I would like you to be the first man in the door closely followed by Isabel Fraser.

    Nuff said.

    David Milligan Lvss

  11. So, the BBC mirrors the UK in its structure and organisation.

    “It has gradually beefed up the outlying centres on its spokes – the Nations and Regions – but there is never a moment’s doubt about where the power lies”.

    Labour, to a T.

  12. Thanks Derek, excellent narrative again. Simply required reading to understand how the system works, for now. And only one way to change it to work for Scotland.

  13. Like other commentators, I appreciate the insights, Derek – and keep them coming. However, I am struggling to detect the fag paper thin distinction between saying the problem is merely one of Britishness at the heart of the BBC ethos and mindset – not an anti-independence agenda per se. Any British national institution, be it the BBC, a government department, the armed forces etc are, de facto, charged to some extent with defending and maintaining that Britain, that national entity which gives them their authority, power, their raison d’être. And the most immediate threat to that Britain is – Afghanistan goat herds and North Korean man-childs apart of course – the prospects of Scottish independence.
    You are right to laugh at the very idea of a journalistic conspiracy – I worked in newspaper newsrooms for 20 years and getting even three of us to agree on a particular course of action was like herding cats – but that doesn’t mean to say that institutionally BBC Scotland does not have an inbuilt anti-independance bias. It is not reporters in the newsroom, for example, who will have decided to put pictures of a Euro behind Jacki Bird’s head every time the issue of currency is discussed – but it’s there and it not-so-subtly helps perpetuate the lie that the Euro is in any shape or form a legitimate option/threat come independence.
    Craig Murray stood up at a Yes Scotland meeting earlier this year and read off a list of broadcast and online BBC Scotland headlines – every single one of them a warning or dire threat. He had found not one single example of a positive story about independence ever leading a BBC Scotland news programme.
    The bias is there, Derek, irrespective of individual journalistic integrity.

  14. Listened to BBC Radio Scotland News at 2pm. Not one mention of the Scottish Government’s Expert Fiscal Group Oil Fund report. So what are we to make of the omission: ineptitude, bias, or conspiracy

  15. Derek, great post. A question about bias NOT Conspiracy. Why do you think that management removed comments from ONLY the Scottish equivalents of the business and political commentators if that isn’t a clear attempt to control the message. i.e. a biased position to take?

  16. It’s not just the news and current affairs content thats failing. Look at the drama department.

    We can’t produce our own weekly national drama, we’ve had Waterloo Road forced upon us. Common sense tells you this is a snub to Scotland. Management are saying, ‘God we need to give BBC Scotland something to produce, i know, let’s hive off Waterloo Road north of the border. It’s a safe run of the mill drama that churned out, factory style has recurring plots and themes we’ve seen dozens of times before. It’s safe ground.’

    So rather than producing our own Scottish drama, which would hire Scottish talent from Producer, Director, Actor, Technical all the way down to Runners, we have a production that yes, will use some Scots in the crew, but inevitably will do more for the hotel business in Greenock having to accommodate those travelling from England than using those funds for Scottish based tv talent.

    Wallander was another example (the Kenneth Branagh one). A BBC Scotland co-production filmed in Sweden with an English cast using some local Swedish talent mixed with English heads of department. God knows where it was edited, but I’ll take a stab it wasn’t in BBC Scotland.

    This is our money, Scots licence fee payers and very little of it actually comes back to Scotland to support those people trying to carve a difficult living. As Derek says, no wonder all the talent heads south. I’d go further to say that most young people leaving film schools or media studies courses in Scotland have pretty much made up their minds that they will be heading south or abroad on graduating.

    Next time you see the BBC Scotland logo at the end of a BBC production, just have a little think to yourselves, ‘Where was that filmed ? Who were the cast ?’ and try to work out just how much of that budget was actually spent here in Scotland.

  17. Good stuff Derek. Hope you have something on the closure of the comments on the BBC bloggs in Scotland. Surely it wasnt just down to lack of money, moderatiing all those ‘ cybernats”..lol

  18. Magic,as I am an old timer this one the best read I have had in years, I will not swear at the telly or radio any more seeing this has been taken out into the open, give us more

  19. The BBC don’t get any of my money. I stopped paying the licence fee years ago (got rid of the telly) primarily because of the bias on BBC political programmes.

  20. This blog is priceless! Thank you.

  21. Good stuff getting better and better.

  22. Excellent Derek. I began really noticing BBC bias when the SNP won the Holyrood election by one seat in 2007. On one occasion in a news bulletin I noticed they used the menacing ‘Darth Vader’ theme music when Alex Salmond was on the screen. Another time they had Glenn Campbell filmed at Holyrood in closeup physically tearing up a copy of the SNP manifesto to illustrate some policy that had changed, Another time, I wrote in to complain when a presenter on Reporting Scotland referred to the First Ministers staff as ‘lackeys’. I thought it unnecessary and disrespectful. Maybe all sounds trivial but to me there was a feeling that the BBC didn’t think the new Scottish Government were for real. I could go on about the disgrace to democracy that was the series of televised leaders debates organised in secret by Cam Clegg and Broon that short-changed Scotland’s First Minister prior to the 2010 election. The high-handed treatment of Nicola Sturgeon by David Dimbleby on Question Time ……

  23. creigs1707repeal

    It rather seems to me, Derek, that BBC Scotland’s editorial line with regard to the independence referendum is contorlled by BBC London… and woe-be-tide anyone in Pacific Quay who doesn’t get on-message – they’ll be out on their ear. Is that a fair assessment?

  24. Fascinating, Derek. Being greedy, some suggestions: the strange case of BBC Scotland blogs, their lack of comments and Daniel Maxwell’s public comments; BBC Audience Council; current state of Herald and Scotsman; BBC use of anti-indy media for the ‘news agenda’; Newsnicht; how internet has changed public views in Scotland; BBC Scotland use of London-based journos. More later! 🙂

    • Thankyou Derek for your interesting blog,which seems as good a place as any to ask opinions of others on the effect the mass Rangers and Celtic supports will have on the referendum.It does seem very simplistic to bring it back to this(Only in Scotland), but surely the Rangers Support will be Pro Union and vote No after all that Union Flag Waving. But also combined with a Celtic support who I think will Vote No too, as long term they want to play in The English Premiership and would somehow perversely feel distanced from their Friends across the Irish Sea in an Independant Scotland.
      This is not something I welcome and infact I fear in an Independant Scotland the worst excesses of the rivalry will rise to further damage Scottish Life with the bigotry etc, rather have it further diluted through GB.
      I have never seen any articles or polls taken etc on this but surely and sadly it will be a factor in the result?
      On the other hand I may be talking rot ,but happy to be told so,just chucking something out there………..


  25. More great stuff Derek. Having experienced the Catch 22 machinations of the BBC when I tried to get them to participate in a debate on broadcasting at which incidentally Tom Devine told us many good people at Pacific Quay were unhappy it is great to hear you tell it like it is. The worst thing was the clown who is the Scottish BBC Trust representative tried to tell us he was independent because he hd been appointed by the queen!
    What amazes me is their blatant lack of balance Do the management not realise that if we win the referendum they will all be out of a job? Or are they so sure of us losing? I suppose the senior management would just relocate to London if the worst came to the worst?
    Unfortunately your blog is only being seen by a few. Too many Scots still believe that the BBC always tells the truth. You need to get to a wider audience

  26. I was a corporate man. I understand the conflict of loyalties, corporate loyalties, especially to the large number of lower 9 to 5 ers just earning to keep their families afloat rather than to ‘da management’, the individual loyalties (and indeed individual dislikes) invariably involved, the recognition of the ‘subtle pressures’ that all feel whether they succumb to them or not and appreciating their power of persuasion personally. It’s a fine line difference. It’s tough.- really tough.

    And that was in the semiconductor industry. In your case, you not only have corporate and individual loyalties to deal with but you have the bigger issue of responsibility to the public and what that might mean for not just the current population but all future generations as well. Don’t envy your position.

  27. Derek, to keep it as simple as possible, what does it take to make the BBC give Scotland’s people an honest public broadcasting service? Is it down to two bad guys – Boothman and MacQuarrie that such concern is raised?

    If so, well the games a bogey and there will be no more credibility and no more reliance placed and utter disdain guaranteed for ever more. You’re more than well out of it and don’t stop spilling the beans – it’s only their due.

  28. Much appreciated insight Derek.

    Spookily I had a conversation on another site yesterday on the subject of the BBC and independence. Our conclusions pretty much mirrored your words above.

    Keep em coming.

  29. Dave McEwan Hill

    Scott Baird
    Careful, please. We have a substantial and growing proportion of Rangers supporters opting for independence and I have chatted with representativesd of the Celtic Fans for Independence group. There is even a joint Rangers and Celtic Fans for Independence grouping formed. Things are moving in the right direction but there will always be a number of eejits

  30. Hi, John I was a frequent visitor to the very first incarnation of a BBC TV studio in Glasgow. My best pal then was a spanking new BEEB sound engineer. We had both just ended our apprenticeships and chosen different career paths. I was in the studio most weekends as we went onto the Glasgow social scene after his evening stint in the studio. I was thus in the studio for the very first White Heather Club, the first Scottish produced drama and for the first Scottish Sports programme. Previously it had only been the news insert and evening news transmissions. The staff were thus mostly a clutch of immigrant engineers and production staff from London — and a bigger lot of stuck-up eliteist London centric numpties would have been hard to find anywhere in Scotland. Seems not much has changed. Except the stuck-up London centric numpties are home grown and mostly Labour party connected. I have a long list, somewhere on my computer, that details the family and political party links of the BBC staff, (Current when the list was produced). It is quite frightening and explains away a lot. They were almost exclusively Labour Party connected. You were indeed right the first time. There is a verifiable institutional connection to the Labour party. If I was asked to name the two most professional political journalists it Scotland I would say yourself and Izzy Fraser and not necessarily in that order. It is hard to choose between two persons so nearly perfect at their calling. Now if asked to name the most biased I wouldn’t know who to start with — far too difficult to pick the most biased from a long list.

  31. In the final section, you describe the London ruled and pro-British nature of the BBC, and with that I wholly agree. i mean in my lifetime, they used to close down BBC one at night with a stirring rendition of God Save the Queen.

    I have always at least partly believed that the problem with BBC referendum coverage, is that they institutionally do not sit as even arbiters, that is, they do not sit looking at say, independence on the right hand side and unionism on the left hand side and the BBC equidistant between the two – which IS how it should be. Instead the BBC perspective, is one of ‘we (the BBC) are here in the union, and independence is something far away over there’. It tarnishes ALL attempts they have made so far at covering the independence referendum.

    The key point in my mind however, conspiracy or not, is simply this, the BBC have had their failings regarding the referendum pointed out to them repeatedly, and have quite intentionally done nothing about them. It is that lack of acting in response to genuine concerned criticism which proves their incompetence in Scotland.

    In essence, from a Scottish perspective, here in 2013, the BBC cannot be trusted to provide balanced coverage of the referendum or Scottish politics. BBC Scotland in its present format is simply not fit for purpose, and exhibits blatant bias, day in, day out.

  32. “What happened to the last Scotland Controller – Alastair Hetherington – who demanded more financial autonomy? Sacked by London.”
    Interestingly, on the BBC Scotland site as part of “On this day in Scottish history”, they feature him today (3 October) as this is the anniversary of his death. However there is no mention of his career at the BBC! http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/history/onthisday/october/3

  33. Derek, a fascinating testimony as to the life and body politic at play in Pacific Quay.
    Your observations of colleague’s, but more especially upper management & Heads of Department, are a revelation.
    You have indeed opened a Pandora’s Box, and exposed for us all, the machinations of BBC Scotland.
    Looking forward to your next article.

  34. BBC Scotland is essentially like the Scottish branch of unionist parties then, everything is done for the good of their London masters at the expense of Scotland and the people to whom they actually owe their loyalty. Why people think that is an acceptable state of affairs i will never know.

  35. Very interesting! I was pleased to see the wee article about Mr Boothman in the Herald last week. At last some truth about the BBC!
    My NZ cousin was with us at the YES march and rally on Calton hill recently and we waited and waited and waited…. to see something on the BBC news. Nothing! She couldn’t believe it. We could!
    I hate that we have to sit and listen to THE NEWS and then it goes “Over to where you (lesser mortals) are. And why oh why, do we have nothing to listen to nothing but “Get It On” 5 nights a week on BBC Scotland? I used to love Radio Scotland but… well there are still one or two programmes I enjoy.

  36. Thankyou Derek for confirming my perception of anti-SNP/Independence bias from BBC Scotland. I have complained to them on a few occasions where I cited examples of obvious bias in their news coverage. Bland denials were received in reply and I thought “Why bother?”, then had another thought that said it’s important to keep complaining so they don’t get the idea that no-one notices.

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