Mentorn Television Production
Not long after Scottish devolution, following storms of protest from Scottish viewers and politicians the BBC agreed to transfer a significant amount of television production to Scotland greatly increasing Scottish content.
Implementation of change would be achieved without detriment to existing staff employed in England or to operational routine.
Smoke and mirrors time:
The BBC in London, restructured its programme production contract with Mentorn (a small but growing subsidiary of the Tinopolis Group, an offshore registered media producer & and distributor).
Mentorn, set up a Glasgow office in 2002, in compliance with the BBC commitment to transfer finance and programme making to Scotland.
From then Mentorn expanded its programme production and distribution many times over, including the Unionist biased, Question Time.
Mentorn & Nickilai Gentchev
This is how the production of Question Time was (paper) transferred to Scotland.
Gentchev, in the employ of Mentorn, transferred from London to Glasgow taking on the role of editor of Question Time.
In his new role he worked with Haley Valentine, who was appointed to the new (non-job) post of Executive Editor. A Scottish face need to be put in place comforting Scots licence holders and politicians
He remained in the employ of Mentorn for the duration of his tenure (2011-2016) reporting to Gavin Allen, the London based, Head of BBC Political News, who who continued to meet his salary.
He also wrote articles for the International Socialism Journal and Socialist Review. A revelation that led to attacks by Tory politicians saying that his background provided credence to their claims that the programme was a mouthpiece for left-wing politicians and activists.
The move was also openly criticized by its presenter, David Dimbleby, who insisted that weekly editorial meetings continue to take place in London. The programme also saw the resignation of its incumbent Editor, Ed Havard, who resigned rather than transfer to Scotland.
Family: Born in Glenrothes in 1971. Schooling: Auchtermuchty High School & Edinburgh University. Career: Journalism: First worked in Dundee before moving on to work in commercial radio in Edinburgh. Progressed to producing television programming with Scottish Television then for BBC Scotland. Promoted and transferred to London taking up a post editing BBC Breakfast TV. Set her stall on working in radio and rewarded with her appointment as Head of News, for BBC Radio 5 Live.
2013: Haley Valentine and Question Time taken to Task by The Electoral Reform Society (Scotland)
Message from: the Electoral Reform Society Scotland, to: Haley Valentine Executive Editor, Question Time. Date Jun 2013
The Electoral Reform Society in Scotland seeks to inform and improve Scotland’s democracy.
With that in mind, we have being undertaking an inquiry into what a good Scottish democracy looks like.
A major theme that has emerged from this year long, citizen led inquiry, is the importance of the media to instruct, publicize and inform the debate.
There has been support for a publicly funded media provider, but a strong sense that that body should be impartial and should seek to provide balanced and informed coverage of politics.
Clearly this is of particular concern in the run up to the 2014 referendum.
We were concerned therefore to see the line-up for the BBC Question Time programme to be held in Edinburgh this evening (Thursday 13th June).
Not only does the selection of panelists fail to represent the make-up of Scottish politics, but it also seems to be aimed more at pantomime than serious debate.
That this should be the case when the audience is, very pleasingly, to be made up of 16 and 17 year old’s in recognition of the extension of the franchise to that group for the referendum is worrying.
It seems to show a lack of respect for these young audience members – implying that they do not deserve serious political debate.
It also fails to allow them to hear from their elected representatives in this public debate forum which receives the widest of political attention.
Two of the parties which will be competing for their vote in 2014 are unrepresented and the Yes and Better Together campaigns are needlessly unequally represented.
Were this not bad enough, available spaces on the platform are taken instead by George Galloway MP and Nigel Farage M.E.P., two individuals and parties who are not represented in Scotland.
We welcome the decision to involve 16 and 17 year old’s in a public debate about the referendum, but the chosen panelists do those 16 and 17 year old’s a disservice as they will not be able to hear from the parties who represent them and who will be seeking their vote in 2014.
We would ask the BBC to urgently reconsider the panel, and at the very least to re-schedule a repeat of this edition of Question Time, but with a panel representative of Scottish politics that respects the BBC’s role to be impartial and equal.
2013: Scottish Greens Co-convener Patrick Harvie MSP added his voice
Message from: The Scottish Green Party. to: Hayley Valentine Executive Director, Question Time. Date: June 2013
We wish to object in the strongest possible terms to the choice of panelists for BBC Question Time, tonight. (June 2013).
This follows our consistent raising of concern over a number of years about the Scottish Greens’ lack of representation on the programme; in 14 years of continuous Parliamentary representation, we have been invited to participate on 1 single occasion.
That occasion was nearly two and a half years ago.
Tonight’s programme will be coming from Edinburgh, with an audience of 16 & 17 year old’s, debating independence – this is specifically billed on the BBC website.
The panel chosen is extremely skewed on the independence question; with only one panelist explicitly committed to independence as a preferred constitutional option, the programme is showing no balance whatsoever on this crucial question.
Green MSP Patrick Harvie is a member of the Yes Scotland advisory board and could have provided the required balance; he is also a member of Referendum Bill Committee in Parliament, which has been handling the legislation to reduce the voting age to 16.
Given that this decision is being made by the Scottish Parliament, we can see no basis for the decision to include only one M.S.P. on the panel, and specifically one who is opposed to the reduction in the voting age.
George Galloway is an MP for an English constituency representing a political party, Respect, which literally does not exist in Scotland, and contests no elections.
On the one occasion when they did, Mr Galloway stood for election in Glasgow and even in a PR election was only able to secure 3.3% of the vote.
Nigel Farage has also been added to the panel at the last minute.
U.K.I.P. has no elected representation in Scotland at any level, as against S.G.P.’s 2 M.S.P.s and 14 local Councillors.
In the last Scottish Parliament election they secured 0.91% of regional votes across Scotland.
This panel is taking place during the Aberdeen Donside by-election, and the BBC has a duty to demonstrate balance at such a time.
Donside is part of the North East Scotland region, where U.K.I.P. achieved 0.9% of the vote in the 2011 election.
The rationale for this selection may include U.K.I.P.’s recent success in the English local elections. U.K.I.P. now have approximately the same number of local Councillors as G.P.E.W., despite blanket media coverage.
But this is NOT an English local election, it’s a debate with a Scottish independence focus, taking place during a Scottish Parliamentary by-election.
This failure even to attempt balance in party political terms, or in terms of the referendum debate is surely a breach of the BBC’s duty to impartiality.
Patrick Harvie discussed these various points with Nicolai Gentchev this morning, and our head of media Jason Rose raised them with Phil Abrams of the BBC policy unit.
Mr Gentchev defended the decision to include Mr Farage on the programme citing his recent encounter with protesters in Edinburgh.
We are deeply disturbed if the BBC’s flagship political debate programme gives greater attention to political stunts than to fair balance.
We seek an urgent meeting to discuss how you intend to redress this situation, not only in the short term but in the run-up to the referendum in 2014. (Martha Wardrop and Patrick Harvie, Co-conveners of the Scottish Green Party).
2013: Haley Valentine Jumps ship and transfers her employment to Mentorm
Mentorn Media Confirmed Hayley Valentine as its new director of current affairs.
She is joining Mentorn from BBC Scotland where she has been executive editor of Question Time.
Based in Glasgow, she will continue to oversee the programme for Mentorn as well as BBC One’s The Big Questions and continuing the growth of Mentorn’s current affairs output across all broadcasters.
Chief executive of Mentorn Media, John Willis, said: “Hayley is the perfect person to head up Mentorn’s current affairs programming.
She has extensive knowledge and experience and we are delighted she will be responsible for developing even more programming from our ever-expanding Glasgow office.”
Valentine said: “I’ve been on the receiving end of the impressive editorial work that Mentorn has produced and I look forward to maintaining that level of commitment to BBC programming as well as developing new and engaging formats across all broadcasters.”
2016/17: BBC Forced to make changes
Repeated demands over nearly 20 years, from viewers and politicians in Scotland, for news and current affairs programming to be produced in Scotland, for a Scottish audience fell on deaf ears in London.
But the Corporation was forced to respond to demands for change following widespread criticism of its referendum coverage.
It announced a new BBC Scotland channel which would broadcast from 7pm to midnight every day, as well as being available online and on iPlayer.
With a budget of around £30m it would feature acquired programmes and programmes from partners in the creative sector and from other countries and a selection of content sourced from other BBC services.
2018: Haley Valentine Returns to the BBC
Valentine, executive editor of the BBC’s, Question Time, the much criticized flagship political debate show, has been appointed editor of the “integrated news hour” a key part of the BBC Scotland channel.
The new bulletin includes national and international news and is broadcast between 9pm and 10pm on the new channel.
Not much of a change really, since she is already the director of current affairs at Mentorn Scotland, the company which makes the bloody programme for the BBC.
She said: “to be given the opportunity to launch a brand new programme at the heart of the proposed new BBC Scotland Channel is a real privilege and a rare treat.
We will be creating a really distinctive programme with a broad Scottish, UK-wide and international news agenda which has the priorities of a Scottish audience at the centre of everything we do.”
Gary Smith, head of news and current affairs at BBC Scotland, said: “Hayley has an outstanding track record and I’m delighted she is rejoining us.
I’m confident that under her leadership we will produce an exciting, distinctive, and brilliant new programme for our audiences.
She will also join my management team, and play a key role in the running of the department and the recruitment of the 80 new jobs which are being created through the BBC’s major investment in journalism in Scotland.” (and that is another story to be told)
2017/18: The New BBC Scotland Channel Takes Shape
80 new journalists were hired in the run-up to the launch of The Nine.
New appointments included James Cook, the BBC’s former North America correspondent, as chief news correspondent, innovation correspondent Laura Goodwin, David Farrell as entertainment reporter, A Europe correspondent, Jean MacKenzie, and three new political reporters – Rajdeep Sandhu, Lynsey Bews and David Lockhart.
2018: Hayley Valentine – A voice from cloud Cookoo Land
Referring to her work with Mentorm as Executive Editor of Question Time and the Scottish Independence Referendum, she said:
“I was involved in our referendum programming and I will defend it to accusations of bias until my dying day.
I’m not saying the BBC or any other broadcaster was perfect.
It was a tricky time, but we were all doing the best we could.
I don’t know a single journalist who brought any bias to work with them.
I’m aware that there are trust issues, but I think they are sometimes overplayed.
The BBC is still trusted, and BBC Scotland is still trusted, more than most news organisations.
I don’t think we are universally dismissed on a trust basis.
Across the piece, the public looks at lot more skeptically at journalism than it potentially did ten years ago.
To be trusted, you have to give people things that they want and have a need for, and stories that they wouldn’t otherwise be told.
A key aim of “The Nine” is to move political journalism away from institutions and translate politics into how it affects ordinary people.
I hope “The Nine” will restore faith in BBC Scotland by shunning top-down journalism, reducing the use of jargon and making people feel we are for them and of them.
Our remit is to serve the audience better, ask questions that people want asked, explore bits of Scottish life that aren’t currently being explored and reflect their lives back at that them.
That will get people to like and trust our programme.
It can do a lot to make people feel that we are for them and of them.”
What a load of Tosh!!!! Her statement conflicts sharply with verified opinion polling carried out in the wake of the referendum which found that viewers in Scotland were more unhappy about the BBC’s output than any other part of the media.
Indeed one survey found that a third of audiences in Scotland believed that the BBC was biased against independence.
Sep 2020: New BBC Scotland Channel Is A Dud
launched in February 2019 average audience figures peaked around a satisfactory 60,000, but the honeymoon did not last long, figures had slumped to under 19,000 by the beginning of May 2019.
Over that same period 21 shows recorded an audience of zero. and in one day in May only 7200 viewers tuned in.
The flagship “nine news” also recorded zero viewers on a number of occasions.
Channel content has gone from bad to worse in 2020, viewing figures have plummeted and the channel will most likely close.
It just didn’t deliver what Scots want which is Scottish news and current affairs delivered on BBC1 at 6 and 9.
Valentine and her large expensively salaried team might just be returning to Mentorn very soon. A waste of licence fee payers hard earned money.
And the transfer of £80m from London to Scotland just didn’t happen. Just about all of the production work was awarded to Mentorn whose profits end up with their parent company registered offshore. I’ll write about them next time.