BBC Scotland – Post the Referendum and a No Vote.
After more than a decade since devolution and the establishment of a Government in Edinburgh there were early signs that BBC Scotland had intent to cover the referendum debate in a balanced format. It soon became evident this would not be the case amid reports of major ructions at the BBC in Glasgow. In recent months it seems to have been plummeting, out of control towards meltdown. It has also been accused, by a large cross section of Scottish society citing anti-independence bias and outright incompetence.
Scottish based journalists and staff, (many of whom have spent years working for BBC Scotland) do not get any respect or consideration from senior management in terms of support and recognition and are routinely undermined by senior management. Staff and management have become increasingly polarized due to a lack of dialogue, management have reverted to managing the business through notice board announcements and other distanced forms of communication.
The power struggle within the BBC in Scotland, is really about accountability It should be to the Scottish taxpayers, who pay their salaries through the licence fee, but management looks south to the BBC Trust, for the nod of approval and authority. The ongoing dilemma causes much heart searching on the part of journalists and staff, much less in the case of senior managers, who often have their eyes on other pastures.
In direct consequence of the foregoing shambles, poor leadership, lack of vision, control of agendas from other places and bending, “like straws in the wind” to the will of the BBC Trust the referendum debate is riddled throughout with anti-independence bias instructed from the BBC Trust in England.
BBC Scotland, established, on a wave of optimism in 1999 promised so much , The. “Scottish News at Six” soon died a death replaced with the National (English), “News at Six” covered at Six Thirty by, “regional local news” and at the tail end of this by a few last minute fillers providing brief snippets of titbits from a few areas in Scotland. Then there was, “Newsnight Scotland” promised as a cutting edge programme covering newsworthy aspects of events of particular interest to Scotland. This was soon dumped, to be replaced with a tail end 10 minutes at the end of the, (now discredited) English Newsnight programme.
Despite release, from London of £5million, headed up by John Mullin (another London Scot, “headhunted” north)to be used specifically in the provision of referendum coverage, BBC Scotland somehow decided there was a need to reduce Scotland based political journalists and support staff. Their solution to the, “self created” under employment of staff, at such an important time for Scotland was to parachute in, “professionals on sizeable six figure salaries, Jim Naughtie and Sarah Smith from England” thereby ensuring a clear run with their anti-independence biased agenda. So there it is, the creation of BBC Scotland seemed to be a good idea at the time, but, it seems the idea has gone sour and BBC Scotland is nothing more than a brass plate on a door of a building in Glasgow. In recent times BBC Scotland has been increasingly classed as a fictional entity similar to the Labour Party in Scotland.
The very expensive employment of, Naughtie and Smith, is surprising since both have spent almost their entire political reporting careers away from Scotland. Additionally both are unashamed labour party supporters and have oft been known to express dismissive views of the SNP. Naughtie has done this several times since his arrival in Scotland. Sarah Smith, (clearly unsuited to live television presentation) presents the anti-referendum biased, car crash programme, “Scotland 2014”.
It is common knowledge the BBC is completing an internal review in anticipation of major financial reduction in the block grant. In the event of a, “no” vote BBC Scotland will be wound down retaining only a bare bones skeleton staff in place. This achieves a number of objectives including major financial savings through major reductions in staff. The sell-off of estate properties throughout Scotland will also ensure major savings for the organisation. Programme making, in Scotland will be shut down, no more, “River City”. The contracted BBC will return to it’s roots being a London based organisation and Scotland will once more revert to being a media backwater. But there is another way. Vote, “yes” for independence. Scotland will then be able to create it’s own national broadcaster representing the modern society that is Scotland. Take heed of the warning, it is happening as I write.