Failure at the BBC

It won’t come as a surprise to anyone consuming the news and following the national debate closely but the academic study of broadcast output in Scotland published today is a serious blow to the credibility of our national broadcasters. The numbers make worrying reading for the guardians of balance in the news on our screens and they demand a response.

The work by the University of West of Scotland is exactly what BBC Scotland should have been doing itself as part of its duty to the Scots to provide balanced and fair coverage. If even a token accounting had been started a year ago, they would have realised quickly there was a problem that needed to be addressed. The BBC is quick to claim people are forming perceptions not based on evidence when they complain about output. But that is disproved in this case and it is revealed as a hard reality that the national broadcaster is favouring one side in the national debate, a breach of its duty under the Royal Charter and a direct contradiction of the BBC’s own producer guidelines.

As a recent and long-term employee, I feel ashamed to learn that a fundamental tenet of BBC journalism lies in ruins while the country seeks the news and help needed to negotiate our biggest national debate.

I can’t find a copy of the actual report – it isn’t on the university website where it remains listed as an on-going project – but if the research appearing on Newsnet is accurate, as it appears to be, this is a dire judgement on Kenny McQuarrie’s chaotic management and confirmation of the failure of leadership in the news department under John Boothman. I can find no mention of it on the BBC website, presumably because it has not been formally published. But Scots must demand an explanation for being treated to a less than balanced news service at this critical time. I believe this calls for a Trust investigation. If this isn’t territory for a BBC Trust intervention, what is it for? It should demand answers from BBC management on how this imbalance in coverage occurred, who was responsible for monitoring it and why was nothing done to redress it. They should also question why management failed to grasp the political reality of the referendum as soon as the SNP was re-elected, as I argued in a previous post. That was the time to begin a thorough scrutiny of output to ensure relative balance. It cannot be scientific because it is to a large degree dictated by the generation of news itself but it means that as soon as a numeric bias is spotted, steps can be taken to correct it in upcoming programmes. This executive failure is the direct result of McQuarrie’s dictum of Business as Usual, meaning no special measures were needed to deal with the referendum which to him would simply be yet another in a steady stream of elections, British, Scottish, European etc. That is fundamentally wrong and he should have been put right by his news managers and political staff.

We now have a situation in which an outside organisation has to point out the BBC’s failure to do its own job properly, reveals that the broadcast output, including STV’s, is having a detrimental effect on the Yes campaign, and will, I believe, be a legacy issue after September. If there is a win for No, especially a narrow one, there will be withering reaction from Yes supporters to the BBC as a public institution. If there is a Yes win, the way is opened up for wholesale changes at the top irrespective of a new Scottish broadcaster being created. They are letting the Scots down.

No doubt they will hide behind yet another of their technicalities – that there is not yet an official period when balanced reporting is legally required – it starts on May 30 -but their repeated statements rejecting any suggestion of bias before that date the ring hollow today. It is their duty to report fairly every day no matter the story.

By their failure to monitor pro and anti items, the management have made it virtually impossible to argue, as I have, that there is no policy of bias in the news. The distinction I always make is between a natural tendency to flatter the power base of the organisation –London/Britain – and the deliberate orchestration of official prejudice in its journalism. I did not encounter – ever – an instruction to a journalist or programme team to angle an item for or against a partisan viewpoint. Nor do I think the producers of Reporting Scotland, which appears to be the main programme under research, sat down and agreed to run an anti-independence story to score a political point. They have broadcast what was making the news on their agenda and in their timeframe on the day. It is an editorial management responsibility to ensure over time there is fair and balanced output. They have not done so. The result is that, wilful and deliberate or not, it doesn’t really matter. The effect, as proved by the research, is the same…the public, a majority of whom have lost trust in the BBC, can now accurately say that the BBC is biased against independence. To me, that is shameful. To be honest, it hurts like hell that this view is now prevalent across the country and that BBC journalism where so many good broadcasters ply their trade, will be stained from now on.

One of the telling points to emerge was the linking of Alex Salmond in on-air copy with independence. At first glance this seems obvious. But what poor editorial decision-making has done is omit or diminish the concept of a wider Yes movement including Socialists, Greens, Labour and former Tories and turn a mature debate into tabloid simplicity…Salmond=independence. To play that game you need similarly to mark the No campaign with a matching leader/identifier as in “David Cameron’s Unionist movement…” or “Alistair Darling’s No campaign.”

For some reason the No side thinks Salmond is a liability, against all recorded evidence, and attacks his “obsession” when as Jim Sillars points out today, independence is a chance to get rid of Salmond and recreate a Labour-run Scotland. It is not the BBC’s job to play the Unionists’ game and subtly add to their message.

When I first wrote about the need for a review of political balance I said they had to rethink the imbalance of always having three party Unionists against one Nationalist. And here’s the report author, Dr John Robertson on the same point: “One obvious explanation lies in the editorial decision to allow all three anti-independence parties to respond to each SNP statement creating an unavoidable predominance of statements from the former even when these were kept short.”

It is blindingly obvious that this is a problem but when everyone is told by senior management it’s Business as Usual, you don’t get action on the shop floor.

The section on the importance of objective experts rather than partisan politicians strikes home with me because that was the approach we took on Saturday mornings, seeking out those who really did know not the politicians claiming to.

“The use of evidence from sources other than the parties themselves and which might be presented as ‘independent’, ‘academic’ or ‘scientific’ is a measure of quality in political debate. Notably, there was very little use of such evidence in the reporting overall and, where there was, there was clear tendency to use anti-independence over pro-independence evidence.”

Read the rest for yourself on Newsnet, I’m too downhearted…too embarrassed.

My plan is to ask the Trust to look into it, to send a copy to James Harding, the Director of BBC news and I think we should all demand Kenny McQuarrie explain how he let this situation develop and how he as Director will correct this embarrassment for BBC Scotland and BBC journalism.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

109 thoughts on “Failure at the BBC

  1. It doesn’t matter now. It’s done. There are only eight months to the referendum. They can “look into it” as diligently as they like, and when they report at the end of September that unfortunately they did find there was unintentional and unwitting bias, what difference will it make?

    Honestly Derek, I know you’re sincere, but we don’t button up the back. The strict accounting of airtime is one thing, but the tone of the articles speaks for itself. Always showcasing some claim of the unionists, with the Yes campaign presented as being on the back foot. Always choosing the line that is most favourable to No and ignoring stories favourable to Yes. Accusing Blair Jenkins on the hill of “preaching to the converted” then spending a third of the time bigging up the plucky No campaign handing out a few leaflets in front of a Co-op.

    Never telling us about the Westminster or unionist funding of the “independent experts” trumpeting their biassed statistics, but hounding Elliot Bulmer for getting £100 for writing an article laying out what he believes anyway.

    They aren’t going to stop doing it tomorrow, either. They’re going to go right on doing it as long as they can get away with it, and hope they can keep it up till Referendum Day. They probably can, too.

    • Hi Morag, I agree with your comment especially on the tone of the presentation of news.

      Often it’s how an item is presented on the BBC news which is just as important as the content.

      If it’s about independence it’s always front loaded with an “Alex Salmond Accused” headline and driven by whatever Labour or Better Together press release has been put out that day. The true facts may be in there so no-one counting them can accuse the BBC of bias but they’re throwaway lines right at the end of the particular news item.

  2. Derek, i hate to say this but, don’t hold your breath expecting the BBC Trust and directors to act on this, certainly not with alacrity.

    This is a bureaucratic hierarchical structure, quite unused to responding to any external pressure until certain peoples’ derrieres are on the line. Only when the problem becomes an issue does the juggernaut try to work out how the fuck it is change direction and to where.

    Think Jimmy Saville.

    3:2 it is reported. I am surprised as little as that. Whet they seem not have taken into account are the good news stories for the YES side which never see the lih=ght of day or are minimised and the dirty tricks during interviews when the No side is never brought to book about their lies and inconsistent positions but the Yes spekespeople are interrupted and haragned even before they have been gived a chance to answer the first question. I have also noticed an unfortunate occurrence of allowing No representatives to talk over Yes representatives as they try to respond to their questions. In fact I am damn near sure that Jim Murphy’s mike was upped during a response from Nicola Sturgeon to the effect that Nicola’s reply was inaudible. I presume she would have had Murphy’t witterings in her ear at the same time?

    3:2, not even half way there.

    • “The Panda” mentioned the bureaucratic and hierarchical structure, and this is certainly part of the issue: There’s an institutional weakness in the BBC that allows ‘tacit policy’ to take root and embed itself.

      I served on the advisory council for BBC Cornwall for a while and was very disturbed by attitudes towards complaints and a lack of ‘reflection’ as to whether reporting might be perceived as unbalanced.

      Much to the disappointment of many in Cornwall, BBC Radio Cornwall (a B Station), and its ‘parent’ BBC Southwest willfully refused to report the highly successful devolution campaign in Cornwall around 2000 to 2003. This was despite a reputable poll showing 81% of the Cornish public supportive of some form of devolution at one point in the campaign.

      No whether one agrees with the Cornish devolution campaign is irrelevant, but it was a high profile campaign reported elsewhere in the media, because of its importance. That the BBC (pretty much going it alone) chose to censor the news is astonishing (although not surprising to many Cornish men and women.

      I don’t know whether it is THE reason, but certainly ‘peer pressure’ seemed to play a role, in particular any perception showing Cornwall (and by inference BBC Cornwall) might be ‘going rogue’.

  3. What Morag said.

    For me, there were two moments of shock before I came to terms with BBC bias regarding independence.

    The first was looking at the BBC news website search results for ‘Scottish independence’ and seeing headline after headline of ‘Independence: warning that …’. They have let the No campaign set the news agenda, and have failed to dig deeper and do their jobs.

    The second was the coverage of September’s march and rally, and how they dealt with the aftermath of their over-the-top bias.

    These two things helped me see that it was a huge problem, and one that is unlikely to be fixed in time to make a difference, as Morag says. I hope we’re wrong about that.

    Derek, I suggest that the questions you pose could easily be turned into a petition text. Let’s ALL write to the BBC Trust.

  4. macgilleleabhar

    This report confirms what I have suspected all along. I cannot see any change happening before the Referendum as the die is cast. The BBC ,and STV possibly to a lesser extent , made a conscious decision to support the union hoping they made the right call in respect to self interest.
    Whether an independent Scotland has a state public service broadcaster or not, any broadcaster receiving public funding should be under scrutiny to ensure balanced and impartial reporting of news.

  5. Derek, all of our media has been heavily biased against independence, not just broadcast. The unionist line is the orthodoxy, independence is regarded as a threat to that status quo. No great shocks as to the treatment it has received even from very early doors. As for a possible legacy in the post referendum period? Too late.

    Mainstream media will receive absolutely no trust and even less support from many of us in the future and at best be regarded with an extreme measure of cynicism by the remainder. Trust is earned and our media has pretty much used up that coinage over the past two years and then some.

  6. “it is revealed as a hard reality that the national broadcaster is favouring one side in the national debate, a breach of its duty under the Royal Charter and a direct contradiction of the BBC’s own producer guidelines.”

    “If this isn’t territory for a BBC Trust intervention, what is it for?”

    “They are letting the Scots down.”

    Many here have been saying for some time that there IS a policy of bias in the news. This report from what (one assumes to be) an independent and un-biased academic institution proves that this is the case.

    There is no doubt in my mind that there is a labour/unionist cabal in BBC Scotland who are determined to undermine the Yes campaign. The leader of this cabal is John Boothman and now HE HAS TO GO.

    I shall await the publication of the report, and as soon as that happens I shall be writing to the BBC Trust to ask them to seek answers from McQuarrie. The BBC in Scotland can no longer hide behind a smokescreen of “impartiality”.

  7. I sense anger and disappointment in your words Derek. I gave up complaining to the BBC, in particular, a long time ago. Im but an ordinary bloke, but even I could see that something was awry and for example, that having Indy debates where you have three unionists commenting versus one SNP or pro indy, was never going to give us the debate we are entitled to expect. Its all so disappointing and am afraid that I believe this mess is by design, not by accident. We live in a country in which nearly all its media is owned/controlled outwith its borders, and that chicken was always going to come home to roost.

    • I too have stopped complaining because they don’t listen. The worst shambles was the Question Time with Garage and Galloway on it, two people who have no support being on a QT from Scotland. The Scottish Greens should be on. Let’s hope this weeks edition from Dundee has equal YES and NO representation

  8. I should say that as well as Boothman, a special mention should be made of the now invisible Daniel Maxwell. He was the one who closed the BBC Scotland blogs. They were closed because, like everywhere else online, there was a predominance of support for independence. The closure was a purely political decision, and like Boothman, Maxwell should be fired too. The blogs should be re-opened.

    • Could not agree more and made these very points today in my survey reply to the BBC. I have received an acknowledgement, although computer generated that they have received my input with thanks. I await furthreo action and response…………..

  9. Derek, you say that you “did not encounter – ever – an instruction to a journalist or programme team to angle an item for or against a partisan viewpoint.” Presumably those who might have given such an instruction would have been well aware that you would have objected to it. Can you be sure that no such instructions were given to others within the BBC who might have been more compliant? Would an instruction have been needed, or would a hint have been enough when it was from one unionist to another? Even if there is no actual conspiracy, with secret meetings to plan a strategy, it is hard to believe that the level of bias shown by BBC Scotland is accidental. There must be too many people there who are willing to deliberately promote a unionist agenda, even if it is done with a wink and a nod, and by senior management turning a blind eye to bias on the part of some individual presenters and producers.

    In my opinion, the BBC’s refusal to report on Lucinda Creighton’s email to Nicola Sturgeon, claiming that the BBC had misrepresented her views, is damning evidence of their bias, with its arrogant dismissal of the email as ‘not news’ and ‘adding nothing to the sum of human knowledge’. Shockingly, they later repeated, on the BBC website, their original claim about Ms Creighton’s views, which I would regard as a downright lie.

    I am glad that I have not contributed to the BBC’s finances for several years now. They are betrating the Scottish public.

  10. I have mentioned MSM (including BBC) bias to NO voters of my acquaintance and they have gleefully agreed. No attempt to deny that it’s there and obvious; it suits them just fine and they’re revelling in it.

  11. An institutionally biased institution has no need for conspiracies.

    • Andrew, I agree with that.

      The BBC is the British State Broadcaster and everyone has to pay the broadcast tax whose sum is set by Parliament to fund it. It’s run from London and BBC Scotland as a separate broadcast organisation is as fictional as Scottish Labour being a separate party.

      The BBC in Scotland take the same outlook as the BBC in London because they are the same organisation. The SNP are outside the British Establishment and therefore by definition eccentric, possibly dangerous and to be treated as such. Labour are the BBC’s party of choice and you only have count the number of times that UKIP’s Nigel Farage has appeared on TV to understand that. Tory voters switching to UKIP give Labour a much better chance at the next General Election.

      The BBC incidents that stick in my head are Glenn Campbell ripping up the SNP Manifesto outside the Scottish Parliament in September 2007, Kirsty Wark’s bad tempered interview with Alex Salmond in June 2007, the relentless hounding of Stewart Stevenson in December 2010 until he resigned while the BBC in England left his counterpart Philip Hammond alone even though the weather chaos in England was much worse and the attempts to drum up opposition to the release of Megrahi in August 2009 where I can still remember Shereen Nanjiani pleading on air on her morning radio show with the “Silent Majority” to phone in because the majority of callers supported Kenny MacAskill’s decision.

      I could list more but to be quite honest I’ve simply stopped listening to or watching BBC news because I don’t like their anti-independence and anti-SNP attitude and I can get far better news coverage of all subjects quite apart from independence from other news sources.

      • A further example is the wall to wall coverage of the Unionist conferences each autumn with only limited or non existent coverage of the SNP. For party in power to be treated with such contempt is unacceptable

  12. Derek, I also sense your anger and indeed almost amazement at the report.
    As others have said, we all have become more and more aware of bias at the BBC since the start of the indy campaign.
    I was originally shocked as well. I started complaining on several reports which were extremely inaccurate to say the least – eg allowing Jackie Baillie away with telling bare faced lies – and got the samed fobbed off replies that others appear to have received.
    Eventually I gave up and no longer watch any news or politics programmes from the BBC at all.
    My brother who is a yes and doesn’t really watch TV much at all, still doesn’t believe me when I tell him of the bias – ‘surely not, this is the BBC’.
    Whatever happens in September, the BBC reputation is dead in the water.
    Once you get over the shock, you will be even more glad that you left.

  13. I’ve always been a BBC person. In my house we listened to the Home Service and the Third Programme and occasionally the Light Programme (my Mum realised I would like Jimmy Clitheroe).

    When we finally got a TV when I was 19, it was the BBC we turned to. Everything from Star Trek to The Goodies. I thought the BBC was a huge national asset. When I moved to the Home Counties I joined the BBC Symphony Chorus and sang with that choir for nearly 10 years, and yes that includes the Last Night of the Proms (I was the one in the soprano section holding a wee saltire and wearing a tiny silver SNP badge on her evening dress). I still have my t-shirt with “Nation shall speak peace unto nation” on it.

    I nearly didn’t pay my licence fee last year. I held out for three months and got all sorts of threatening letters saying my house was now under observation and so on. I can’t watch. It makes me sick to my stomach. I’m just leaving my radios on Radio 3 because most of the time that’s OK and I can avoid the news.

    They don’t need to issue instructions and edicts. The vast majority of their presenters and management have links to the Labour party, and it’s all understood. Possibly even unconscious. No wonder wee Ruthie had her head below the parapet, and Derek says that like it proves they’re all so professional! They all KNOW in their heart of hearts that independence is some crazy glory-hunting scheme of Salmond’s and all right-thinking people understand this, and it permeates their entire outlook and output.

    And it’s not going to change. The only thing that will change it is a Yes vote.

    • Lachie Macquarie

      Morag, that is such a shame. The BBC, abroad is held in such high esteem, I remember being in a bus in China in 1986, a few drams and I started whistling Lilybolero, they all joined in. We can’t do the same can we? BTW, does Mrs Naughtie’s wee lad, have the vote? How do people feel about him parachuted in to BBC Scotland?

  14. Well derek,its time for you to wake up and snell the coffee.Now the evidence tells you that you once denied,that you beloved bbc scotland is rotten and so are the people who do its bidding freinds of yours or not.Their counterparts across the river arent much better,the questio should be what are you going to do about it?.To me this is just as big a story as the referendum,one that any decent real journalist would give their right arm for to bring to the scots peoples attention,we deserve nothing better.

  15. The BBC are not listening. This morning on BBC Sunday Politics Gary Robertson allowed the program to finish with a Unionist Rant while the Pro Indy guy sat with his mouth open.

  16. Derek, can you tell me why my post at 3:39 pm is still under moderation?

    What was wrong with it or what have I done?

  17. Ian Bell of the Herald said right at the beginning of the campaign that the BBC’s reputation would be in tatters in Scotland by the end of the campaign. BUT that wouldn’t matter to it’s masters as long as it resulted in a NO vote.

    Re: bbc Scotand’s debate in Greenock Tuesday 21st, As of this afternoon no local YES folk have been invited. I wonder if this is the same for the NO campaign. OR are they busy practising their boos and hisses.

  18. Troubling indeed. What can we do about it? Grin and bear it I guess, because in effect the Labour Party run BBC Scotland, which DB knows better than most. The Labour Party also run the Daily Record, a rag of a newspaper but one read by a great many working class Scots (the very folk whose votes will decide the referendum). Some of the bias is cringeworthy, such as publishing, alongside an anti-Yes piece, a photograph of Salmond designed to make him look as foolish as possible. They do it with Nicola Sturgeon too. Then there are the lies. The blatant lies they tell should offend us the most.

    You know what though? We cannot let ourselves get downhearted by all this. We KNEW the Yes campaign and its adherents would be treated this way by the unionist institutions.

    Let’s complain as loudly as we can, as DB suggests, to the BBC Trust. We can’t do anything about privately owned newspapers, but we can do something about the bias at the BBC, because we f###ing help pay for it (and not by choice).

    Will it make a difference? Perhaps, perhaps not, but let’s do it anyway.

    If nothing else, hopefully we can shame them in their unprofessionalism, at least for a bit.

  19. I am afraid I have to agree with every comment. Only this weekend my husband and I mentioned bias at the BBC and our daughter said we were talking rubbish. “The BBC is the most respected in the world for fair and unbiased reporting.” she said, and accused us becoming conspiracy theorists!
    And another one bites the dust.

  20. Morag, just to say I liked both your comments esp. the 1st one

  21. I’ve got a copy of the report. If you’re interested then email me and I can sent it on.

  22. Dewey Cox just to say I think complaining to the BBC is a complete waste of time. as everyone here has commented they know full well what they are doing. the best use of everyone’s time and energy is to get the YES message out and maybe informing people of the bbc’s bias, BUR that is a distraction, keep to the YES message, move on to the next voter, time’s short!

  23. I agree with all of the above … apart from the suggestion that the BBC’s reputation will go down the pan as a result. How exactly is that supposed to happen? As the academic research shows, its STV rival is almost as complicit and how many of our newspapers are going to start beating them with this stick? None. As I and many other frustrated campaigners know only too well, BBC journalism is like Holy Writ for tens of thousands of Scots, particularly the older generation. One mention of BBC bias the eyes roll and you get treated like some moon landing-denying conspiracy nut. They’re untouchable. Add in unaccountable, uncontrollable and unapologetic.
    We’re stuffed.

  24. It’s not just the Scottish Independence debate that is misreported IMHO. If you read the Medialens website there are many other pro establishment examples. The BBC are generally an organ of the state. If you look at interviews with Gerald Greenwald re leaks of spying material you’ll see how a real journalist hammers the likes of Kirsty Wark. But it was the Scottish situation that brought it home to me.
    BBC Scotland has no shame. As stated above they are run by Labour/establishment supporters who will risk losing to a Yes vote. If that happens they’ll be damned but they are willing to take the risk. And this report will be kicked into the ‘long grass’

  25. Another little trick of the No brigade is to complain to the BBC themselves, alleging bias towards Yes. The most blatant example was Davidson’s attack on Isabel Fraser.

    Then the BBC just shrugs its shoulders, washes its hands and says, we’re getting complaints of bias from both sides so that proves we’re doing it right.

    I complained about Paxman comparing Salmond to Mugabe. I asked who had made the connection between the words Salmond had used to express his vision for an independent Scotland and some only vaguely similar words Mugabe had once used many decades ago, that were almost impossible to source online.

    I asked if an explicit correlation was being drawn between a First Minister whose party had won a free, PR-based election with an unprecedented majority and the intimidation, physical assaults and murders used by Mugabe’s associates to deter opposing votes.

    Didn’t get an answer.

  26. Surprised? Not me – this Labour controlled disgrace has long practiced deceit and dishonesty. Savile anyone? Now we learn they doctored film of Dave Lee Travis and young girls at a Top of the Pops show!
    This BBC organisation, like Westminster and almost every other organ of the British state is run on lies and hypocrisy brought about by a kind of hubris that can excuse anything. Don’t cry about it – weep for democracy, so long absent in this foul state!

  27. I am as frustrated as anyone by the now proven bias of the BBC in the independence debate. It is unforgivable in a way that the bias of the MSM is not.

    However, supporters of “Yes” should take consolation, as I have from the very beginning, that the set piece debates in the final few months of the campaign cannot be biased to anything like the same extent.

    That is why I still have the view that the “No” lead over “Yes” will narrow sharply (hopefully reverse) in the late stages of the campaign

  28. Away back in the early eighties I worked for the BBC as an engineer. I remember the daily internal conferences by the producers of Reporting Scotland discussing what would be in the program that day. The majority of the items were taken from stories already printed in the newspapers.
    I don’t know if this still happens, if it does then the fact that these newspapers overwhelmingly lean towards the union could be part of the explanation for the BBC’s biased output.

  29. Wait for it guys we haven’t heard the BBC spin on this yet. They’ll have a piece decrying yes side sooner than you can blink, dont you worry this contingecy will have been planned for.
    How else do you expalain their couching of all such complaints from the general public (and there are thousands). Not once have they agreed to look into, let alone resolve.
    Remember as in North Korea – they are the STATE BROADCASTER, after all. Its not about impartiality in the BBC vision.of event & all that chaps.

  30. Someone mentioned Naughtie. I heard him interviewing the other day. The unionist spokesman was countered by James mildly saying things like “but Alex Salmond would say….”, all giving the impression that James had to put these points to him but obviously this was just a formality, along the lines of “he would say that wouldn’t he?”

    Then the SNP spokesman came on for his turn immediately afterwards. There was none of this “but Better Together would say….” nonsense. He laid into the SNP person, jabbing the distorted views that Alistair Darling was promoting, but never as if he was formally putting the other side’s point of view. Instead the impression given was that Naughtie himself was destroying the Yes point of view by bludgeoning it with solid, incontrovertible fact.

    It was a shocking performance. Naughtie is prepared to do that. Derek left because he is too professional to do the same thing the other way round. That’s what causes the imbalance (not that I’m blaming Derek, I can see why he did it). But if anyone complained, the BBC would say that Mr. Naughtie was professional and challenged both sides by putting the opposing view to them.

  31. All media in the UK is overseen by and directed by the ESTABLISHMENT. So there will be absolutely no comeback on this topic, some ermine robes, a few gongs, some free passes into the HOL expenses club. Some of the YES leaders will be ostracised and belittled, Scotland will be robbed blind and it’s people cowed into silence again and punished for upsetting the ESTABLISHMENT. BAU.


  32. While this is about the BBC,I think it is relevant, as part of previously giving undeserving credence to major institutions, to note this:”as Jim Sillars points out today, independence is a chance to get rid of Salmond and recreate a Labour-run Scotland”.
    As an ex-Labour supporter (since the Referendum campaign got underway) I would welcome a chance for those who still vote for them to have a fresh Party. Of course if we vote No they, and us, will be stuck with the old Party hacks.
    If we get a Yes, and as the Labour leadership and activists, were comprehensively against independence, It would be unacceptable for that old guard to just be handed Scotland again.

  33. @Freddie Threepwood
    “One mention of BBC bias the eyes roll and you get treated like some moon landing-denying conspiracy nut.” Really? that’s not been my experience out on the streets. Undecided’s are prepared to listen to rational explanations, and there’s a lot of them around. Many of them are only too aware that the BBC and the rest of the Scottish media are biased.
    “We’re stuffed.” If you insist!

  34. @Clydebuilt
    Not ‘we’re stuffed’ as in prospects overall for a Yes vote – just in terms of getting this message of media bias out there. Perhaps you are canvassing more promising areas than I am, but I get nowhere criticising the BBC. Nowhere. I get far better responses on newspaper bias – that’s obvious. But the BBC is impartial. Why? Because it just is. It’s like talking to born again Christians about scripture.
    As I’ve said over on Wings, I wouldn’t expect the SNP or Yes Campaign to come out strongly in support of this because they know there’s no surer way of being ridiculed and demonised across the entire British media – even from newspapers who spend the rest of the time slagging off the BBC for their own purposes.
    Anyway – courage, mon brave. Courage! That reminds me, The Musketeers is about to start … oh dammit, it’s on the BBC.

  35. All of this is quite depressing. Everyone including Derek Bateman seems to have given in to the fact there is nothing we can do before the 18th. Yet Craig Murray, the former UK Diplomat and Ambassador has several times mentioned a European Organisation which can overlook the BBC/Media and bring it to heel concerning bias. I had a link to this organisation but a computer glitch lost it. However derek a quick email from you to Craig could get this line of action moving NOW. How about it?

  36. This report or study is no surprise to me. We have saw how BBC Scotland presenters have behaved for years. Kirsty Wark is notorious for her hatred of Alex Salmond, while Jackie Bird has been quoted as saying she basically hates him as well. Sally Magnusson, who the media in Scotland have put on a pedestal, asked Margaret Curran, in the coverage of the 2011 Holyrood elections, “what are WE going to do Margaret Curran” or something very similar!! Then there is the editorial issues…From all BBC Scotland’s ‘warnings’ headlines against independence you would think the Yes campaign has been getting destroyed in the debates. However, Sturgeon has easily bested Moore and Carmichael,while Sarwar had to act like a clown to disrupt the debate. Such was the extent of Carmichael’s hammering that he had to go and run to the presenter to ask for help! He has since said he is thinking of leaving politics! You would know none of this from BBC Scotland. You would think the Yes campaign was constantly on the back foot when that is not the case at all. The warning headlines against independence are ludicrous when you take into account Scotland’s abundant natural resources and potential as a fully self governing nation. I honestly cannot recall watching or hearing any positive stories or reports about independence on BBC Scotland.

  37. macgilleleabhar

    Robert Burns in his “Epistle to a Young Friend” may well have written it for the Referendum especially verses seven and eight.
    “To catch Dame Fortune’s golden smile,
    Assiduous wait upon her;
    And gather gear by by ev’ry wile
    That’s justified by Honour:
    Not for it to hide in a hedge,
    Nor for a train -attendant;
    But for the glorious privilege
    Of being independent.

    The fear o’ Hell’s a hangman’s whip,
    To haud the wretch in order:
    But when you feel your honour grip,
    Let that aye be your border:
    It’s slightest touches, instant pause-
    Debar a’ side-pretences;
    And resolutely keep the laws,
    Uncaring consequences.”
    Good sound advice in the first verse for “Yes” and the second verse would be most appropriate for Better Together.

  38. I agree with nearly everything above but I think it likely that McQuarrie and Boothman are strongly resolved to tough this one out and believe they can so all the way to September. Unless their superiors in London are sufficiently concerned about the irreparable damage being done to the BBC’s reputation in Scotland to intervene, they may unfortunately be right.

  39. Derek, I may have missed someone giving you a link to the paper. If I did, I apologise. If not: here it is. I believe it is also available in PDF from from the university although I don’t have that link.

  40. On a side note.Sillars is well out of touch if he thinks an independent Scotland would vote labour or welcome them back.They have shown themselves to be ignorant,arrogant,unintelligent and unpatriotic during the last couple of years.They will disintegrate after a yes vote not come back stronger.Mutiny on the Bounty will be a fairytail compared to their self destruction.

  41. Here is the infamous Kirsty Wark interview with Salmond: Also, Salmond having a go at BBC’s biased panel: Lastly, Alex Salmond telling it like it is in regards the “British Brainwashing Corporation”: Interestingly the BBC presenter did not really make an issue out of it… I am not sure if the links work! By the way some of the comments below the Youtube clips are nuts…

  42. @Brian Hill
    The organisation you speak of will only respond to a request from the UK government. Another stitch up.

  43. Derek, you say

    (The BBC)
    ‘They have broadcast what was making the news on their agenda and in their timeframe on the day.’

    The key words here are ‘their agenda’ – you’ve just said it yourself.

    And lets remind ourselves that this report only covers Reporting Scotland, not any other BBC political output. If you consider that the 30 minute programme is usually onto sport or WW1 or WW2 tribute stories or the progression of the Commonwealth Games torch relay by 6.40pm (10 minutes in) then the report barely scratches the surface of total BBC output across TV, online and radio.

    Derek, just to make it clear what bias is, I’ll give you a clear example, with evidence.

    Here’s a link to a story that Raymond Buchanan wrote on the BBC website on 23rd October 2012.

    The headline is ‘Has the Scottish Government ignored it’s own independence consultation ?’

    It refers to the public consultation held by the SNP and the response to one particular question, how many options should be on the referendum ballot.

    Once you get through the barely disguised contempt Buchanan has for the SNP (phrases like ‘as we enter another winter’/ ‘world’s media summoned’/ ‘spin doctor’s’/ ‘Alex Salmond- his government’) we finally get to the heart of the matter, Buchanan tells us that the SNP didn’t listen carefully to the consultation as a second question or option (devo-max) was not going to be on the ballot.

    Buchanan continue’s his thinly veiled contempt, and only nearing the bottom of the article do we find the reality. The consultation figures showed that an overwhelming majority of respondents wanted a single Yes/No question, some 62%, while some 32% wanted a ‘devo max’ question.

    So, if anything, shouldn’t this headline be the other way round ?

    Shouldn’t the headline say ‘SNP listen to the public and we will have a Yes/No referendum vote”

    And what of Buchanan’s attempt to show that the SNP have somehow ignored the Scottish public ? Clearly how can the SNP have ignored the Scottish public when they have just held a Public Consultation. If anyone is to blame, surely it is the public for not responding ?

    So what are we left with ?

    A formula for BBC Scotland. Run a misleading headline, put in a lot of thinly disguised waffle usually based on some misconception and only at the end actually print the truth but do so in a manner that is far from clear and do not expand on it.

    We’ve seen this everyday from BBC Scotland for years now. It’s so bloody obvious that even dim-wits like me can see it.

    So, sit down, read through it and draw your own conclusions and if you think I’m wrong, tell me.

    • Nope – you’re right – the SNP and Scottish Independence threatens to upset the gravy train for the establishment… but hope springs eternal… change is constant and all empires fade and vanish… we as a nation will be free from serfdom to Westminster – as will the good people of England, Wales and NI… I believe this wholeheartedly

  44. The saddest part of all of this is.We have a media presenting this as England v,s Scotland.The truth is that it,s Scotland against the Scottish media!

  45. I gave up complaining to the BBC well over a year ago as I never received a relevant reply. I dare not watch Sally M and co. for fear of damaging my health. I do listen, however, to GMS first thing in the morning and that’s usually enough to get me tearing through my work at a rate which dispels the intense fury created by their so-called reporters. Incidentally, I’m convinced they managed to hide their strong bias from you, Derek. And do you blame them? They would not have been treated to a stress-free chat over a cup of coffee!

  46. Derek, I have been unable to comment on your most excellent post on Failure at the BBC. The post I tried to post was:

    “I remember getting a link to some BBC Internal training in 2011 (I think) in relation to how the BBC should cover the Scottish Independence campaign. The trainees were Andrew Neil, Brian Taylor, Nick Robinson and Stephanie Flanders. I cannot find the link and if anyone can comment and post with the link it would be interesting to watch it again in relation to this latest report from University of West of Scotland. I remember steam coming out of my ears as I watched and listened to that training. I always thought that something should have been done about it to expose the BBC’s bias. I really hope someone has the link. ”

    You may have seen this training or know someone who posted the link. I think it is so important that I would appreciate if you could give me your thoughts/views on it if you are able to view it.

    As a young 75 years of age technology incompetent forgive me for this unusual approach.

    Yours Aye, Jim Arnott Ambassador Yes Scotland

    My favourite information sites

  47. Maintaining the union at all costs, that’s where we’re heading Derek.

  48. The problem is even if there are only 40% of their listeners intending to vote yes.That is 40% of tax and licence payers ,paying these guys salary for the favour of them ignoring or lying to us.They are amateurs.James Naughtier couldn’t wait to tell Salmond William Paterson who founded the BO England was responsible for the Darion disaster.Yet all Salmond had said was that he Boe was founded by a Scot.As a demonstration of it being Scotland’s bank as much of England’s.The two points were nowt to do with each other.In answer Salmond could have pointed out that the English trade embargo in the Americas and failure to help the Scots settlers was deliberate and led to the union.Any way I digress it was crass and obvious what Naughti was up to …embarrassing.

    • Naughtie is a nasty piece of work, that is very obvious. His agenda is to damage and belittle the independence movement and everyone in it in every way he can possibly achieve.

      It’s a funny thing. I lived in England for 25 years and for a lot of that time my clock radio was tuned to Radio 4. It’s now on GMS (though I should switch it to Radio 3 like all my other radios). The first morning he showed up and I heard his voice wake me, I was absolutely convinced I was still in my bedroom in Sussex!

  49. Tartanfever, I just read your link. What a load of candy-floss!

    It looks to me as if he had an article ready where he accused the Scottish Government of railroading through the Edinburgh Agreement for political reasons, before the report on the consultation was available which showed an overwhelming preference for a devo-max option. Then when he discovered that the overwhelming preference was for the single question, he just published it anyway with some minor copy-editing.

    Shock horror! SNP secures agreement to do exactly what the voters overwhelmingly want, before actually knowing that. Salmond accused of witchcraft.

  50. There is an epitaph on Rob Roy MacGregor’s Grave that reads:”MacGregor despite them” We should remember that when thinking of BBC Scotland:”Scottish despite them”.

  51. Derek,

    Just one step more for you to finally admit that there IS an AGREED anti-SNP and anti-Independence agenda at the BBC.

    Why does it takes educated people like yourself half a lifetime to work out and admit the bleeding obvious?

  52. Interesting… we pad around the issue – use terms for the BBC such as Anti-Independence… Anti-SNP… when the simple truth is that the BBC is… and always be.. Anti-Scottish…. make no mistake. Being Scottish and being “British” are mutually exclusive… Do not fool yourself….

  53. While some may be deserving of the classical description of being evil, i.e. those who knowingly tell lies, who say things they do not even believe themselves, only for reasons of career or self interest, there must also be those, like a large section of the Scottish public, who are themselves victim of the drip-drip propaganda which has gone on for decades.

    We should not be too hard on those who have genuinely succumbed to the relentless black propaganda of ‘Too wee, too poor, too stupid’ or ‘Scottish culture is rubbish.’ They are as much victims as we are, possibly in an even more debilitating way.

    Instead we should wish, that at some time after a Yes vote, they will, greatly to the benefit of their own mental health, have a healing catharsis.

  54. i phoned a few complaints several years back, joined in two campaigns in Glasgow,one in the sleet and snow, against BBC bias then decided to no longer be a BBC customer. I had a visit from two guys asking me to justify my non-payment. ” I’m not paying to be lied to or for Unionist propaganda”. I don’t miss the BBC, it’s TV programmes are a series of hopelessly parochial Great British silly programmes. Think about it. Each us, our life clock is ticking, are you prepared to spend the time sitting watching biased nonsense? There is a Yes campaign to be secured. Lets get out there and do it.

  55. Derek, this report is most welcome. It would have been really interesting if the scope of the study was widened to include BBC Scotland’s Radio and online output as I believe that this would have confirmed, and I know that you don’t want to hear this, the institutional context of the bias.
    I know you have stated your disbelief in institutional bias at the BBC many times before but the achievement of bias on this scale is, I believe, much simpler than you would think. It does not require a corporation wide conspiracy. A simple fear of your future, as an individual within the BBC, or any other organisation for that matter, will suffice. e.g. What happens to the reporter who does not quote his government source verbatim? Does he/she get any more newsworthy material from that source? What happens when all their sources dry up?
    The reporter with an interest in meeting their mortgage repayments reports in the only fashion open to them. Multiply this reporter out across government departments and news outlets and we are left with the situation where the perceptive news end users amongst us are left with a feeling that we are being misled and that the organisations providing our news are ‘institutionally biased’.
    Consider the following article on medialens: It looks primarily at the comparison between the Western media and the Soviet era media in their reporting of the invasions and occupations of Afghanistan by the Soviets (1979-1989) and the US and UK of both Afghanistan and Iraq (2001-present). For those of you who can’t be bothered reading the article it goes on to describe the many similarities between the reporting in both medias e.g. invasion as an act of self-defence, the liberation of the people, the legality of the occupations, the influence of external interference, backing our troops etc…
    The conclusion is that despite different environments that the media worked under in the Soviet and the US-UK the outcome was the same i.e. the journalists act as ‘mouthpieces for the state’.
    In the introduction we are asked how that came to be. John Piliger in his book ‘Tell me no lies’ quotes a group of Soviet era journalists exposed to the US media during the US-UK occupation of Afghanistan “In our country,” they said, “to get that result we have a dictatorship, we imprison people, we tear out their fingernails. Here you have none of that. So what’s your secret? How do you do it?”
    To me it’s simply answered by showing our Western journalists the route to personal gain. In our society everything from keeping your job, gaining promotions, maybe even a gong at the end of it all are tools which are used on a daily basis in a very subtle way.

  56. For all the posters above who are moaning about HAVING to pay the licence fee. The answer is simple don’t watch television. You can’t be shot for not watching television. (It rots your brain anyway).

  57. If there was the chance to prosecute those that twisted the truth for political gain=power=money,seems to me that we shall win our independence,and it should be let known to those who lie,blatant or by omission shall be brought account.

  58. Everyone knows MSM are biased and are Westminster Gov controlled. That why no one bothers with the Press or MSM. There is an alternative narrative in Scotland now. This blog is part of that movement. More successful and more widely read than MSM. There is a balance and the YES support is not only growing but in a majority, as a percentage of the electorate. Tax evading MSM groups are losing money faster than a seive loses water. The vast majority of people take absolutely no notice of the dire content. People get their information from other more reliable sources. The MSM have destroyed themselves. Don’t give them oxygen. Don’t read them, buy them or watch them. That way they will self-destruct, implode. It’s already happening.

    Power to the people. Independence is a natural progression, it will not be denied.

  59. Noone takes any pleasure from your Damascene conversion Derek as you yourself said the revelation was a painful experience destroying all you stood for and believed in,

    Several months ago I did say you were standing (no criticism) too close to the monolith to see round it and now you’ve become aware of something all the rest of us have seen for many months (if not more in some cases) hopefully you’ll be instrumental in forcing a change in the BBC’s approach but also alerting gullible people who do not know they are being lied to,

    But Freddie please “we are stuffed” not good man not good, all you’ve have to do is listen carefully to people around you and you will hear folk starting to wake up to the fact they are being taken for fools, and I don’t know about you but I don’t like being taken for a fool, there will come a point (god help us) before the referendum where there will be a mass awakening to the lies and obfuscation and they will migrate en masse to yes.

  60. But where do we go from here? I think we have to demand a statement from Ken McQuarrie on the measures he will take to address the institutional political bias at BBC Scotland. There has to be evidence of immediate action to tackle the problem. If this is not forthcoming, we have to start calling for McQuarrie’s resignation or removal.

  61. Brian Hill says
    However derek a quick email from you to Craig could get this line of action moving NOW. How about it?”

    I have on several occasions contacted the ODIHR regarding media bias which they are tasked to help prevent the problem is the only people who can ask for thier assistance is the soverieign government (go figure) but I did post on wing only this morning a request to Stu for a co signed letter to the ODIHR which if enough perssure is applied on them I think even if they will not in public assent to involvement they might be encouraged to use back channels to approach London to twist their arm into forcing a more balanced approach to the subject, can you imagine where we would be in the polls if the msm were as robust in challenging the better together camp as they are with the yes campaign, this referendum would already be in the bag,

    this is the post I wrote

    What about getting permission from the University and sending this research to the ODIHR?

    We cant just stand by and do nothing, I have contacted them on several occasions now and although I am getting a stock answer (no) I sense the personal response I got from their spokesman had an element of sympathy for Scotland’s plight
    I do believe if we send a continual stream of emails and letters to them they will contact the UK government in back channels and tell them to address the imbalance.

    Representative people like yourself Stu, Derek Bateman, Gordon MacIntyre Kemp, Ian Bell, and so on could co sign a letter maybe it would strike home.

  62. Derek, in your recent podcast you said that the no campaign had been more effective in having their press releases aired in the MSM, I got the impression that you thought there was a level playing field for yes and no – do you still think that to be the case?

  63. Thomas Rymer
    OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR)

    Tel: +48 22 520 0640
    Mobile: +48 609 522 266

    this is the person I contacted at the OSCE he’s a very nice man and very approachable, email is

    • Have now emailed Mr Rymer. If anyone wants to copy the email then please feel free.

      Thomas Rymer
      OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR)

      Dear Mr Rymer,

      A year-long impartial academic study carried out by researchers at the University of the West of Scotland, headed by Dr John Robertson, has revealed that both the BBC and STV have been favouring the anti-independence campaign in their TV news coverage of the independence referendum, which takes place on the 18th of September 2014.

      The study revealed:

      Reporting Scotland broadcast 272 news items deemed favourable to the No campaign against only 171 favourable to Yes. STV was only marginally less biased with the 255 for No and 172 for Yes.
      Statements which made use of academic, scientific or ‘independent’ evidence favoured the No campaign by 22 to 4 on BBC Scotland and by 20 to 7 on STV.
      Personalising independence arguments as being the wishes of Alex Salmond appeared 35 times on BBC and 34 times on ITV with no such personalisation of any of the No campaign’s arguments.
      Broadcasts containing language that was considered insulting to independence campaigners occurred on 18 times on both BBC Scotland and STV but language interpreted as insulting to pro-Union campaigners appeared only 3 times on each broadcaster’s news reports.
      Finishing a broadcast item with anti-independence claims which were unchallenged happened 28 times on BBC Scotland and 34 times on STV whilst ending items with unchallenged pro-independence claims occurred only 8 times and 17 times respectively.

      Mr Rymer, I am aware you appear to have no power to intervene because of the requirement that any request for intervention has to come from a government. But, as a citizen of Scotland, I urge you at least to publicly comment on the findings of the report.

      The study findings, although always suspected by many in the pro-independence campaign to be the case, nevertheless comes as a huge shock. The actions of the BBC and STV over the last year are reminiscent of the old Soviet-style propaganda outpourings from the likes of Tass and Pravda in the Cold War era – something the BBC particularly was vocal in condemning. Now the BBC is doing the same with regard to Scottish independence while proclaiming to the rest of the UK and the world that its coverage is fair and balanced.

      As well as being shocked, personally, I am also extremely saddened that an organisation like the BBC, which I was brought up to believe represented the highest standards of journalism, truth, balance and ethics, is nothing short of a UK government propaganda mouthpiece as far as the Scottish referendum debate is concerned.

      Please, is there anything you can do, before it’s too late? All we in the pro-independence campaign are looking for is truthful and balanced debate, nothing more.

      Yours sincerely,

      Your name…
      (an ordinary citizen of Scotland)

  64. Derek,

    In addition to the 3-1 set up there’s the unwillingness to ’empty chair’ the NO camp.

    Instead the discussion is pulled! The BBC regularly empty chairs politicians, businesses, individuals etc.

    What’s nothing short of sinister, regards the democratic process, NO is using it as a way to shut down debate.

    The BBC needs to stop pandering to this.


    There is NO failure here the system is working just as it is planned and meant to by the ESTABLISHMENT.

    As Ian Hamilton has said “it’s the system that’s rotten”. Divide, control and conquer. Then pick their pockets and tell them you are the good guys, they’ll thank you! The BBC will ensure that.

    We do NOT live in a democracy, we live in a pseudo democracy! Grace, greed and favour that’s how we are herded (governed), via Westminster (not by Westminster). The direction of travel comes from “the great and good” via the PRIVY COUNCIL via the head of state (HMQ).

    “O the twisted web we weave when we spin our yarn to deceive” THE SYSTEM IS WORKING JUST FINE, IF YOU ARE ONE OF THE GREAT & GOOD. The BBC is doing its job, sublimely, just sublime!

  66. “There is NO failure here the system is working just as it is planned and meant to by the ESTABLISHMENT.”

    Could not agree more

  67. What now Derek now that you see what others have seen for months if not years?

    From ripping up the SNP’s 2007 manifesto on Reporting Scotland to unending “accused” stories in 2013 at what point does a former BBC employee come to terms with the fact that corporation bosses and news editors have been acting in the way that is clearly detrimental to democracy in Scotland.

    The state broadcaster can no longer be trusted with reporting the news in Scotland. Where do we go from here Derek?

  68. It is a pity that research takes time, since anecdotally for people like me who want balance, the disconnect has seemed obvious. May I assume Dr Robertson’s research wasn’t funded by Yes Scotland or the SNP ?

  69. I wouldn’t hold your breath on the BBC moving. We’re still wating for the publication of the Balen report, and that was back in 2004

  70. The BRODCASTING companies including the good old BBC are distant arms of the state control system, they can pretty well broadcast any old drivel they want to, but when the establishment calls, all stops for HMV to give its direction and they dutifully obey or their licenses are pulled (or mabe SOMTHING more personal). Sounds fair to the establishment, who’s going to know or complain and if anybody does you just ignore or laugh at them. It’s the BBC management who takes the flack to divert the finger away from the “States” direction that is their primary job “PROTECT THE STATE” then they can run their soap operas, and collect their gongs.
    Stop complaining about the BBC they are doing what they are ment to do and doing it very clumsily but well, very well. Hence they will get their rewards at the end of their careers and a nice pension, who can blame them, that is our capitalist way.

    I am no lefty commy, just a realistic synic who unfortunately has to accept the facts as they are not as I would want. VOTE YES AND CROSS YOUR FINGERS THAT ENOUGH OF US SEE PAST THE SMOKE & mirrors

    I live in hope but not much else. Who said the world is fair?

  71. @yerkibreeks – the report is a statistical analysis, facts not opinions. Are you concerned that Dr Robertson cherry-picked the facts at the behest of the funder, if indeed there was a funder? Go and ask Dr Robertson if you are concerned.Please report back.

  72. Interesting take on the BBC’s reporting of the indyref. You seem to be claiming that it is unfair that a policy which attracts between 25% to 30% support from the Scottish people doesn’t receive 50% the media.

    Also interesting that a former BBC journalist quotes a claim made by a pro-government propaganda wabsite involving an unseen report without even the merest of health warnings.

    That this attack on the BBC has attracted so many comments should tell us something about those who are exercised by their hatred of the BBC. I used to have fun on my blog with Derek’s ‘unbiased’ broadcasts, I genuinely enjoyed listening to him and didn’t mind in the slightest when he dredged up some obscure pro-indy European academic who would back up the latest SNP assertion. It was a hoot and certainly not worth the bother of writing a green ink letter to the beeb about…

    • Grahamski seems, with his comments regarding the 25% + that the views of minorities should not be heard on the BBC? Censorship rules in the Labour party it seems?

    • That is beyond barking. It certainly isn’t the arithmetic of democracy. There is a straight decision to be made, Yes or No, Both cases should be made and they should be made even handedly. STV and BBC not playing with a straight deck is a subversion of democracy. Control and weighting of the media is a trick much beloved of those leaning to the totalitarian. It could of course be worse but there is a definite list to one side in this debate. Time and again in town hall debates, even the one conducted by Newsnight shows that if the Yes campaign gets an opportunity to put its case on an even playing field it not only thrives it has on several occasion turned around a pre-debate voting intention similar to the polls to a Yes vote post debate. A fair hearing in the three months up the vote will make this a close race. One that I think the Yes vote can win. That is why it is imperative that unbalanced coverage in the media must be addressed (colour of ink is optional but I thought green was for auditors). I can also see why you think it must not be addressed.

    • Grahamski, here you go.

      Now I am sure after reading their the statistics you can join your fellow unionists in blaming the academic for discovering the bias rather than the BBC and STV for allowing it to happen.

    • “You seem to be claiming that it is unfair that a policy which attracts between 25% to 30% support from the Scottish people doesn’t receive 50% the media.”

      It’s called having a balanced debate. How many on each side can be convinced by such a debate is of course up for grabs. Another way to describe it is to have due impartiality in the coverage, which is what the BBC is supposed to do.

      “Nation shall speak peace unto nation” – unless it’s Scotland’s constitutional status of course, then you can let slip the dogs of war…

  73. About eight years ago it was pointed out to me that far from Scotland being a poor wee nation we are in fact a very rich nation. This got me thinking, how on earth did I ever come to the conclusion that Scotland was a poor country totally reliant on England to get by?
    In short, the media!
    This got me angry and ever since then it still gets me angry to watch the BBC give the platform for unionist politicians to constantly bombard us with utter lies regarding Scotland, its finances, economy, culture and so forth.
    It`s amazing to see folk who have only just realized what the media in Scotland are up to. I can only come to the conclusion that Scotland does not live in a democracy. A plutocracy maybe or mediaocracy where there`s no chance or maybe just a slim one that people can come to an informed decision on a whole range of issues including where to place their vote in an election and of course referendums.
    If there is a NO vote in september it will be a very dark day for Scotland, its democracy (word used lightly), its self confidence and I go as far to say it would also be a dark day for democracy in the world.
    What will happen when a large number of frustrated individuals turn to anger?
    Is there gonna be riots in the street? Probably not but never say never. A no vote will leave the country divided, a YES vote will see a unified Scotland like never before.

  74. Grahamski, don’t think you are part of the establishment, however you certainly are a lachie of the great and good. Tug at the forelock, bend the knee and a lick at the masters boots. That’s a good boy!

  75. It’s about yes versus no, whether we want to govern ourselves, making all of our own decisions, or allowing Westminster a free hand in deciding some of the most important areas in our lives.

    Fair enough, the Yes campaign has somewhere in the region of 30% to 40% support – and the No side has shown a gradual decline over the last 12 months or so. Therefore, for the sake of both sides of the debate, balance is required from the BBC and other broadcasters. Balance equates 50% coverage for either side, something which the university study referred to above falls far short of.

    This morning, I emailed Thomas Rymer, Spokesperson, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), expressing my sadness and disappointment at the decline in the BBC’s journalistic standards with regard to balance in the referendum debate.

    As you, too, are entitled to 50% coverage (I assume you are on the No side), will you join with me and add your voice calling for balance?

  76. thomas brotherston

    Lets be absolutely crystal clear. The BBC is the British state Broadcasting Company and is the voice of the British establishment.The state is not a neutral entity. It exists to preserve peace in a class divided society but always in the interest of the dominant ruling class. To be sure there are many great journalists within the BBC with integrity but they will never be allowed to shake the foundations of the British state. The movement for an independent Scotland threatens the very existence of the British state. In the coming months we will experience every dirty trick in the book both legal and illegal. The people we are dealing with did not build an empire on goodness and truth but by theft deception bribery and ultimately brutality. Lets not expect them act any differently when they are in danger of losing what they have left.

  77. Grahamski is articulating a new principle, that the balance of positive and negative broadcast coverage should be proportionate to the level of support the two sides appear to enjoy in recent opinion polls. I doubt whether that is consistent with the BBC Charter and how does it meet the needs of the substantial proportion who have yet to make up their minds?

    • I am suggesting that the four main political parties in Scotland should get fair and equal coverage. To suggest that the broadcasters should cut the coverage of three of our parties in an attempt to present a spurious 50:50 split is as ludicrous as it is profoundly undemocratic.

      • The Referendum is not General Election.

        It is a simple yes / no question and both sides should have equal opportunity and airtime, on the BBC anyway. STV is a private company and like newspapers can, and very much do take a position.

        The BBC’s unique funding by way of a tax demands that it is politically neutral. It quite evidently is not.

        It should be for the two campaigns to decide who represents them as and when they comment, whether they be Tory, Labour or Raving Monster Loony Party or SNP, S Greens, SSSP, Margo or Labour for Independence.


        That isn’t too difficult to understand?

      • Why the four main parties? Why not just the top two? Or why not throw in all the parties, get the Greens in equally, the Scottish Socialists, the works. Just another example of how the debate can be engineered…

      • I agree with the Panda. Its not about political parties if it was it would be more than a 4 way split as suggested by Grahamski because there are at least 3 parties working together on the YES campaign. I underline “working together”

        I’ve always thought that Labour, Tories, UKIP and Lib Dems were strange bed fellows in the No corner and I would say that Grahamski’s points highlight that the cracks are beginning to show.

  78. Grahamski raises some good points. Derek Bateman’s information seems to come from a website that is clearly designed to promote a nationalist viewpoint, but he forgets his commitment to ‘balance’ by omitting to mention this. The academic study he’s quoting from seems to consist of statistics, which appear to show that the No viewpoint gets more mentions or has more hours of coverage than the Yes campaign. But statistics alone don’t convey the substance of the coverage. At pretty well every UK election you’ll find that one or other of the main parties (usually the Tories) comes up with statistics that they claim shows the BBC is biased against them. From my observation, the yes and no sides of the argument are normally represented equally on programmes like Newsnight Scotland. Gordon Brewer gives just as hard a time to Labour or LibDem spokespersons as he does to the nationalist ones – and I defy anyone to cite interviews of his where he goes easy on the No side and shows bias towards them. Isn’t the problem really that the Yes case is so flimsy, and that in so many respects it lacks credibility when put under scrutiny? Many nationalists seem to want the broadcast media, especially the BBC, to treat the idea of independence as the natural state of things in Scotland, and membership of the UK as an aberration. That, to them, would be ‘balance’. Unfortunately the vast majority of Scots don’t see it that way. The media portray the issue in the way the public already perceive it – it’s as simple as that.

    • Hi Robert
      Thanks for joining us. Just for clarification, I am not unbiased…most readers will have gathered that by now. I’m a blooger giving personal reflections.I have no obligation to balance if I choose not to, but the broadcasters do, especially the BBC. It is their duty under the Charter and a bedrock of their journalism. Everybody reading here knows what Newsnet is and as it happens, they not only were first with the story, but got it right and without them, you wouldn’t know anything about this story. Too late to rubbish them now. It’s all confirmed and rock solid. Sorry.
      The report should be read before doubted. It is not composed of statistics, they are the hard evidence which makes clear that there is a bias. The report goes onto explain how news items are treated, how some are personalised, how more often the last word goes to No, how negative headlines get bigger treatment and how it is disadvantaging the Yes side. I fear you haven’t done the obvious of reading first before telling us your view. And this is nothing to do with Newsnight or Brewer, it is only about Reporting Scotland – which is clear from actually reading it – which is more influential as it has sometimes the best part of ten times the audience.
      It is not about treating independence as natural – although it is for 99.9999 per cent of the people on the Earth, it is about fair play for both sides which is the BBC’s obligation. Would you be happy if the Yes side was given more time than NO?
      The media may well portray it the same way a majority of Scots do, but again you miss the point about the political process which is required to treat each side as credible – the SNP has an actual majority, more than the Tories in London do. I’m afraid you have made the same error you accuse me of…confusing your bias with the truth. And if the case for independence was flimsy I doubt if the full weight of the British state and its media cohorts would be working so damn hard, NO? Consider backing your own country and voting Yes.
      Thanks for posting

Leave a Reply