A Newsnet Scotland special report 
Since this site was created back in March 2010 one aspect of our coverage of news and current affairs in Scotland has stood out - our refusal to accept that the BBC in Scotland is an unimpeachable pillar of virtue, an institution bereft of fallibility, an organisation that can be trusted unquestionably.
Most regular readers of Newsnet Scotland will be all too aware of the many examples highlighting what we euphemistically call ‘questionable broadcasts’.  However what isn’t widely known is the almost total impunity with which the BBC operates in Scotland.

BBC Scotland is fully funded by the Scottish licence payer.  In 2002-03 BBC Scotland received a paltry 3.7% of the total licence fee raised throughout the UK – this despite Scotland having 8.6% of the UK’s population.

Today, the BBC raises £325million of its £3,500million revenue from Scottish licence fee payers, but spends only £102million on programming in Scotland – the figure rises to around £176million when infrastructure costs are added, a modest increase on the 2002-03 figure.

Around £150million of Scottish licence fee goes south and is our contribution to the network programming many Scots enjoy, such as Strictly Come Dancing and Eastenders.

Despite this, the corporation’s Scottish arm is about to lose £16million from its budget which will lead to around 120 job losses over five years.  The job losses include 30 journalists from the BBC Scotland news department.

Given Scots pay for all of BBC Scotland’s output and some, one might reasonably expect that these same Scots, or at least an organisation acting on their behalf, would be able to hold BBC Scotland to account.

But the actuality is somewhat different.

BBC Scotland you see is not recognised as a Scottish public body.  The entity as it is presented to Scots does not actually exist – it is a mirage.  There is no such thing as BBC Scotland, there is only the BBC in Scotland.

To find out the extent to which the BBC is isolated from scrutiny in Scotland, Newsnet Scotland sought advice from a lawyer and from Scotland’s Freedom of Information Commissioner.  The information and advice we received convinced us that the setup at BBC Scotland is unsuitable for the kind of mature, balanced and informative debate Scots will need as we head towards the 2014 referendum.

Before going any further, it is worth explaining why such accountability is necessary. 

BBC Scotland is the dominant media outlet north of the border, it has unparalleled access to the Scottish electorate.  It both entertains and informs – it also persuades.

The licence fee we are compelled to pay ensures that this organisation is protected from the normal rigours of business – the corporation need not satisfy its customer base in order to facilitate a continuation of its income.  We are all forced to pay for the service whether we like it or not.

One of the most important aspects of the BBC’s service is its news output.  In Scotland, as in the rest of the UK, this includes radio, TV and increasingly web based content.  However, in Scotland we lack a plurality of national newspapers in that there are no newspapers advocating independence.  Against this Unionist dominated landscape the BBC and to a lesser extent STV, have an added responsibility which is to ensure a platform for non-Unionist voices and views.

However, in the case of BBC Scotland it is the opposite that seems to be the case, with Unionist inspired stories and commentators dominating headlines and bulletins.

A look back at the last two weeks demonstrates this lack of balance with stories one would describe as ‘harmful’ to independence given higher profile and coverage than those one might argue favoured the independence campaign.

In the last fortnight comments from EC President José Manuel Barroso have been extensively reported by BBC Scotland – the comments were interpreted by Unionists as ‘proof’ that an independent Scotland would have to re-apply for membership of the EU and that Scotland would be forced to adopt the euro.

However, comments from a former EU Judge casting considerable doubt on Mr Barroso’s claims received nothing like the attention the EC President’s intervention enjoyed.  Indeed on the very day Sir David Edward gave a detailed and considered response to Barroso’s claims, Radio Scotland’s flagship evening news programme ‘Newsdrive’ failed to give a single mention to the story.

A similar lack of interest was shown by BBC Scotland to comments from former Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, Sir John Grieve, who confirmed that an independent Scotland would be able to retain sterling as its currency.  It should have merited widespread coverage given claims from Unionists that Scotland could be prevented from continuing to use the pound.

Last week witnessed a ramping up of anti-SNP rhetoric from BBC Scotland, with programmes claiming a rise in anti-English sentiment in Scotland – despite official figures showing attacks on English people having dropped this year.

Good news has also been presented as bad with an increase in Scotland’s population described by the BBC as a “timebomb” due to people living longer.

A CPPR report that claimed falling north-sea oil receipts would leave an independent Scotland worse off than if remaining in the Union dominated the BBC news on Thursday.  However viewers and listeners would have been unaware of the links to Scottish Labour Party of the report’s authors.

John MacLaren has been an adviser to two Labour First Ministers and was also part of disgraced former Scottish Labour leader Wendy Alexander's team.  Jo Armstrong, McLaren's co-author of the report, was an adviser to another Labour First Minister, Jack McConnell.

Both MacLaren and Armstrong produce regular so called ‘independent reports’ that more often than not find their way onto BBC Scotland TV and radio news bulletins.  Again, more often than not, these reports will do little for the SNP or cause of independence.

Jo Armstrong, has also worked for the Fraser of Allander Institute, another academic organisation favoured by BBC Scotland that appears to employ a disproportionate number of folk of a Scottish Labour persuasion.  It counts amongst its members one Brian Ashcroft, former Labour party member and husband of aforementioned former Scottish Labour Leader, Wendy Alexander.

These links to Labour are never reported by BBC Scotland.  This isn't to say that the reports themselves have no merit, but it is surely appropriate that party political links are made clear so that people can form a judgement.

We have also seen recent attacks on the Scottish NHS given a very high profile, with BBC Scotland’s Eleanor Bradford claiming last week that the Scottish NHS has suffered a series of “scandals”.  It was prompted by another Labour allegation against Scottish NHS staff who they claimed had fiddled NHS waiting time statistics.

In an ironic twist the year has ended as it began, with Labour MSP Jackie Baillie’s voice prominent in the BBC broadcasts.

At the beginning of the year, BBC Scotland allowed this same MSP to make false allegations against the Scottish NHS.  Ms Baillie has yet to face a single question from any BBC reporter after she claimed infection rates in Scottish hospitals put them at the top of the European infection league table.  In fact Scottish hospitals were the cleanest they had ever been, and were nowhere near the top of such a league.

Added to this apparent favouring of pro-Union stories by the BBC is an ever increasing tendency for its Business and Economy Editor Douglas Fraser to draft what more resemble politically motivated opinion pieces than business oriented pieces.

Mr Fraser was the Political Editor at the Herald newspaper before jumping ship just prior to redundancies hitting the Glasgow based organ.  Whilst at the paper, he was frequently taken to task for authoring articles than were deemed pro-Union by the paper’s readers – criticisms that led Mr Fraser to describe his detractors as “vermin”.

His last two blogs, on which reaction from the public is strictly forbidden by BBC Scotland, cover currency and energy.  His piece on currency is as one sided as his writings in the Herald used to be with a critical focus almost exclusively reserved for the SNP.

His offering on the currency debate ends:

“In summary, the logic coming from different quarters suggests that if independence is to be for real in Scotland, it will have to have its own currency.

So what's stopping Alex Salmond from embracing the idea?

Well, answer this one for yourself: what would it do for his poll ratings if he said that everyone's pay, savings, assets and pensions were to be denominated in a Scottish currency, as yet unknown and untested?”

Mr Fraser’s article on energy relies heavily on the latest report from the CPPR that Newsnet Scotland dealt with on Friday.  It is safe to say that Unionists would be comfortable with the way Mr Fraser presented both issues.

It’s against this backdrop that Newsnet Scotland sought to determine what, if anything, Scots unhappy with this service could do in order to seek redress when the BBC gets things wrong or is a tad less than impartial when presenting issues.

We first sought to determine what legal avenues might be open to Scottish licence fee payers. 

Human Right’s legislation is often used by aggrieved parties angry at perceived abuses.  The Aberdeen bypass was only allowed to go ahead after an exhaustive series of court rulings culminating in the UK Supreme Court rejecting a bid to have the project halted.

Newsnet Scotland consulted a legal expert on Human Right’s legislation to see if the BBC could be compelled to address claims of a lack of balance in its reporting of Scottish politics.

We were told that any case based on Human Rights would be unlikely to succeed.

“Assuming the BBC would be considered a public authority, the issue you have does not appear to fall within one of the convention Articles.  The most relevant convention right upon which you may be able to rely would be Article 10 – Freedom of Expression. 

“However upon reading the Article wording it is difficult to see how your grievance sits within this. 

“If anything, raising action under Article 10 against the BBC’s editorial decisions could be met with the counter-argument that the BBC’s right to Freedom of Expression has been breached. As you will be aware, Article 10 is frequently employed by the BBC to justify their broadcasting choices and editorial discretion.”

There was more. 

We learned that the Ofcom broadcasting code does not apply to the BBC in respect of areas concerning impartiality, accuracy, elections and wait for it … referendums.

Also, regarding editorial discretion and duties concerning impartiality, the BBC’s Framework Agreement states that it must do “all that it can to ensure that controversial subjects are treated with due accuracy and impartiality”. 

This suitably vague duty is qualified in the Editorial Guidelines, which state that “news… must be treated with due impartiality, giving due weight to events, opinion and main strands of argument”. 

Due weight is explained further as not necessarily requiring coverage in equal proportions.  Thus the BBC is not compelled to provide both sides in the independence debate with equal coverage.

We were advised that the only redress would be through the BBC’s own channels, but warned that the corporation is effectively a self-regulating body.  In short it polices itself.

For the record, and to help those who would wish to pursue the BBC the steps to take are:

  • Stage 1: Within 30 days of the transmission of a programme, a complaint can be submitted to the BBC Executive online, by phone or in writing.  A response should be received within 10 working days depending on the nature of the complaint.  If the BBC is wrong, it will apologise and take action to prevent reoccurrence. 
  • Stage 2:  If unsatisfied with this response, you can request a response from the relevant BBC department, which will respond within a further 20 working days.  If complaint issues are still not addressed then issues of a possible breach of editorial standards can be referred to the Editorial Complaints Unit who will investigate. Referrals to this stage should be made within 20 working days of completion of stage 1.
  • Stage 3:  If you remain dissatisfied, you can take your complaint to the BBC Trust.  The Editorial Standards Committee of the BBC Trust then examines the complaint against the BBC Editorial Guidelines.  Such appeals should be made within 20 working days of receiving a response at stage 2.  If the Trust upholds an appeal it expects the BBC management to take account of its findings.

But it isn’t just the area of balance and complaints that concerned us, we also inquired as to the responsibilities of BBC Scotland under Scottish Freedom of Information legislation.

Here we contacted the FoI Commissioners office seeking advice on how to compel BBC Scotland to release information it had stored.

More bad news resulted.

The Scottish FoI Commissioner’s office explained that the BBC is a non-devolved authority for the purposes of freedom of information, meaning that they are covered by the Westminster FoI legislation, as opposed to the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act, which we enforce.

FoI doesn’t apply to the BBC in the same way it does to most other public bodies, in that it only covers information "held for purposes other than those of journalism, art or literature".  This means that the Act does not apply to material held for the purposes of creating the BBC's output.

So, BBC Scotland is not covered by Scottish legislation on Freedom of Information, and is under no obligation to answer questions or release information relating to its output.  Newsnet Scotland tested this out by sending an official FoI request last week to BBC Scotland’s press team and to Political Editor Daniel Maxwell.

The reply we received was to send our request to the corporation’s FoI department based in London – which we duly did.  The information we requested, if it exists, will be held by the organisation’s Scottish HQ, so the London based department will have to forward our request onto the people we initially contacted.

A picture was emerging of a body with significant influence over the Scottish people in terms of what the news agenda is and which can dictate the amount of airtime or coverage afforded political parties and commentators with no obligation to be fair and balanced.

The BBC is answerable not to Ofcom, not to the Scottish FoI Commissioner and the chance of anyone using Human Right’s laws to challenge the broadcaster is remote.

The final insult of course came barely a month ago, with the news that BBC Scotland managers had refused to appear in front of a Holyrood Committee to discuss cutbacks to the Scottish broadcaster’s budget and concerns over the quality of its referendum coverage.

That they have now announced a U-turn and will make an appearance early in the new year does not alter the uncomfortable truth that Scotland’s Parliament has no authority over this broadcaster.

If the democratically elected government of Scotland have no power over the BBC then we have reached a situation whereby we have a virtual colonial broadcaster able to push whatever message it wants to in the near two years until the independence referendum.

If one wished to design a broadcasting machine ripe for corruption, that could be used by a government situated out-with the borders of the country in which it broadcasted and free from scrutiny, then BBC Scotland is the perfect template.

That there are Unionist reporters and presenters working at BBC Scotland is not in doubt, there will also be independence supporting staff as well as those occupying the middle ground.  However, with no scrutiny other than that of bodies based in London – with a vested interest in maintaining the Union - then it is naive to believe that people will put their own prejudices to one side in the face of an unprecedented vote that will determine the shape of our nation for hundreds of years.

It matters not if the BBC in Scotland is indeed acting in a manner that is beneficial to the anti-independence campaign, all that matters is that the system as it stands will facilitate such corrupt reporting if those in charge of BBC Scotland wish it.

People may or may not be left with a sense of injustice following general elections over the coverage they receive at the hands of the media.  However, unlike elections which are cyclic and allow for a ‘rematch’, the independence referendum is a one off – many of us will die well before such an event ever happens again.

Those in charge at BBC Scotland must ask themselves how they will cope should one side feel aggrieved in the aftermath of the vote. 

A sensible approach would be the setting up of a committee charged with monitoring BBC Scotland output.  A committee of respected people guided by a broadcasting constitution drafted in a way that will ensure balance and accountability.

It need not have the power to sanction, but monthly reports would be circulated and falling standards would be highlighted.  Any suggestion that the ‘great debate’ was being handled in anything other than an even handed manner would see a diminution of trust and almost certainly result in a loss of revenue as citizens decided to withhold their licence fee.

Alternatively, BBC Scotland may consider that there are no shortcomings that need to be addressed and carry on regardless.

If it does, then it may not survive for long post 2014 – no matter the referendum result.



# muckledug 2012-12-24 01:32
First rate journalism. Unfortunately, it confirms our worst fears; that the BBC is a law unto itself and can pursue a politically motivated agenda with impunity.
# SolTiger 2012-12-24 03:12
While the BBC may not be directly answerable to the Scottish Government I am sure there are aspects of the corporation's Scottish arm which fall under the Government's sphere of control.

Of course any indirect action, or threat there of, by the Scottish Government against the BBC's operations here would no doubt result in unified unionist uproar. "The nasty Nats trying to strong arm the proud and unimpeachable Bastion of Britishness Corporation and cover "the truth" with Nationalist propaganda."
# bodun 2012-12-25 00:32
Here is BBC Scotlandshire's Christmas message to all politicians of the shire.
# UpSpake 2012-12-24 07:41
As its the holidays and TV can get just a bit cheesy why not take time out to read the BBC Charter due for re-newal 2106. Makes for interesting reading.
The BBC is a Constitutional Construct. The UK has no Constitution. Only Scotland has a quasi document written in 1320.
The Office of National Statistics defined the BBC in 2006 as a Department of State and the License Fee as a non avoidable tax or a Poll Tax if you wish.
The BBC acts and looks like a leviathian, multi layered organisation a million miles away from being a commerical entity.
Wrapped up in legal drivel it is there to obfuscate and destroy any attack to its hegemony.
It's lifeblood is its License Fee. That is its Achilles Heel. Forget complaining, Forget to pay.
# Nation Libre 2012-12-24 07:46
Can the Scottish Government decriminalise non payment of the license fee?
# Astonished 2012-12-24 12:51
Nation Libre - This is a very good suggestion. I am all for it.

A criminal conviction would result in many losing their jobs. Forcing the BBC to address non-payment through the civil courts would concentrate their minds wonderfully. And possibly they would do something about the unremitting bias.

Of course, decriminalising the licence fee would mean those who do not have a telly, and thus have no need of a licence, would no longer be unceasingly threatened with jail by the telly tax people. And this could be the excuse.

Next time we all see our MSPs I suggest we mention it.
# Nation Libre 2012-12-24 08:08
What we need is not for people to quietly stop paying, we need 10,000 to very publicly agree to stop paying, going to every news outlet they can. The furore of 10,000 court appearances and eventual custodial sentences would be huge. The current prison population of Scotland is 8000, where would they put another 10,000? That's £1.45 million that could go to a human rights lawyer. No tax without representation!
# Scaraben 2012-12-24 09:18
I did not replace my TV when it stopped working several years ago, because there were too few programmes that I wanted to watch and too many which, even if potentially interesting, were rendered irritating by the way they were presented. I find that, with the internet, I do not miss television.

Since I stopped paying the TV license fee I have received numerous threatening letters from TV Licensing (Capita acting on behalf of the BBC), which did not endear them to me. Their blatant Unionist bias has only increased my determination never to pay another penny towards this corrupt organisation.

It is not only with respect to Scottish independence that the BBC shows political bias.
# art1001 2012-12-24 09:31
This is a superb article and must make very uncomfortable reading to our Imperial BBC overlords in London and their satraps in Scotland.

Not a lawyer of course but I would have thought they (British Government as they are effectively in control) might be brought to book under the Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Protection of Rights of Minorities.
# amfraeembro 2012-12-24 09:46
And there's the media clause in the Edinburgh agreement. Surely not there just as wishful thinking.
# UpSpake 2012-12-24 09:48
Perhaps the way to go is through the OSCE who have a Department of Human Rights and whose brief includes monitoring the use of state sponsored propaganda which is the BBC to a tee.
All it needs is for the Scots government to make a request ??????????????.
# art1001 2012-12-24 10:00
Not sure but I think only propagandising for war comes under their articles.
# Breeks 2012-12-24 09:55
You can set up whatever committees you want, but don't put your faith in them working. The elected government of Scotland can't secure fair representation, so how could any committee fare better?

Non payment is the way to raise the issues profile, but by itself won't deliver victory. It might however provide the Scottish Government with due occasion to act.

Be aware however. Speaking as someone who has seen multiple legitimate grievances backed up with sound evidence being frustrated through using 'appropriate channels', such as the Financial Ombudsman, tribunals, and various regulators, I think you'd be surprised by the degree to which these channels are rigged against the 'little guy'. They are often riddled with ex-industry appointees on familiar terms with those being 'regulated'.

The BBC, quangos, regulators? - Never take them at face value. They thrive upon the working assumption that YOU have more integrity than they do.
# H Scott 2012-12-24 10:03
Given the complete opposition to independence of the mainstream media in Scotland, if the BBC carries on as it currently does then the referendum will not be a free and fair one for the independence side and we may not therefore be able to accept the result. It would also breach the terms of the 'Edinburgh Agreement'.
# spagan 2012-12-24 10:10
But -
The Queen has a Xmas message - and it is on the BBC website.
The Westminster PM has a Xmas message - and - you've guessed - it's on the BBC site.
The (New Labour)Welsh FM has a Xmas message - and you'll find it has prominence on the BBC Wales part of their site.
I'm presuming that MY first minister has a Xmas message - Clearly Alex forgot to give the BBC a copy???
Merry Christmas NewsNet - You guys don an excellent job!
Moran taing
# Barontorc 2012-12-24 10:14
I am of the opinion that the SG has at its disposal the capacity to issue a statement regarding democratic pressures that can be caused by mismanagement (in whatever form) of public broadcasting, without directly naming the BBC.

Blair Jenkins' approach to his YES campaign responsibilitie s is impressive, but, for his statement favouring BBC impartiality, an issue, completely at variance with most posters on this site and that's to name only this forum.

This NNS article serves to show just how copper-clad the BBC's potential is for unregulated broadcasting which may be akin to propaganda.

As a pillar of the union, it could proffer an anti-independence stance, which is a concern for democratic balance.

This situation should be justification for the SG to speak-out its concern.
# cjmjr 2012-12-24 10:27
In an Independent Scotland is there a place for a State Broadcaster, is a question I would ask.There are many commercial and free to air Tv/Radio stations ready to fill that gap.We could still collect a small Licence fee and use the funds for Scottish Films/Programs to be made and market them to the commercial companies building a Industy at the same time as promoting Scotland and Scottish culture accross the world.
# Old Smokey 2012-12-24 10:49
Would suggest that a future state broadcaster be modeled on the Norwegian NRK broadcaster. Would recommend looking at their website and see the number of TV and Radio channels its has for a country that is so 'small' just like Scotland in fact. It has a mix of advertising and licence. Norway also has a very large and diverse selection of commercial tv and radio - how do they do that with such a small population - just like Scotland
# Indy_Scot 2012-12-24 10:49
I am sure that there will be many people like myself that can see the BBC Scotland bias, with their power to pick and choose whatever story they do or do not want to broadcast across Scotland. But there will probably be many more people who think that the BBC Scotland is a source of impartial news, but in truth it is not, and they are being let down and deceived.

It is nothing more than a blatant abuse of power, funded by the very people who are being politically manipulated.
# Jim Johnston 2012-12-24 11:03
There's mileage in your idea Nation Libre, I like it.

I suppose the BBC has a right, as they see it, to pump out Unionist propaganda, just as I have a right not to buy it since I don't require it.

They could scramble transmition and make it pay to view. Who knows it may even come out of the scrambler as straight.
# The Laird 2012-12-24 11:05
BBC in Scotland
Labour in Scotland
Tories in Scotland
Lib Dems in Scotland

I smell a rat.
# Seagetagrip 2012-12-24 11:23
I drew the above to attention of Gary Robertson. He replied that it was no doubt written by some anonymous scribe. I replied that I would have been proud to have written it.
However I did point out that all was not lost as we still had Derek Bateman and Isabel Fraser on a Saturday. Used to have Derek everyday!
# CyBOS 2012-12-24 11:32
Looks like the much coveted international reputation of the BBC is starting to unfurl!

Love how the international press is now using the word "biased" in the context of the BBC.

SPANISH FURY OVER BBC DOCUMENTARY Palma.—The documentary by the award-winning economics editor of the BBC’s Newsnight was first broadcast on Sunday night on BBC2 and yesterday, it was revealed that the Spanish Ambassador to London, Ignacio Moreno, has written to the BBC to complain about the biased manner in which the documentary was put together and that Mason decided to use the region of Valencia as the example for Spain’s financial and social problems.

# mealer 2012-12-24 12:13
The BBC is the London-run state broadcaster of the British state.Of course its biased!! Thats its job!! What can the SG do about it? Nothing.What can Yes Scotland do about it? very little.What can we do about it? Well,being a disparate bunch with no leadership,and therefore no one to sue/prosecute,we have a lot more scope.The first,and most important thing is to circumvent the BBC by taking the pro-Scotland message straight to the people.By word of mouth is best,but the internet has a huge role to play as well.We might not be able to change BBC output,but we can encourage people not to believe everything the BBC tells them..."the BBC is run from London and you shouldnt believe everything London tells you" There are also possibilities in a campaign to withold our license fees,but a lot of people fear prosecution.Could NNS do an article on this without opening themselves to prosecution for inciting law-breaking?
# Jamieson 2012-12-24 12:26
Could a site be set up on Facebook to suggest non-payment of Licence Fees together with reasons why?
We could also go down the route of 100,000 signatures to obtain a debate in Westminster in re of BBC bias.
If nothing else those two options would result in bad publicity for the BBC at a bad time in its life.
The same could also be said for suing the BBC vis a vis its bias. Even if we couldn't win we'd still get good publicity to exert pressure on the BBC. But ... large sums of money would be required. I wish I could win that Euro lottery! I'd buy up the Scotsman, (it must be worth little more than pennies now) sack all the Unionist supporters and install SNP supporters.
# amfraeembro 2012-12-24 12:25
There's more to the BBC than biased political reporting. For example one of the jewels of Scotland's cultural life is who, as well as producing fantastic performances around the country, have an important outreach department bringing hope to some of our most deprived areas. For example, the BBCSSO is the major performance partner of "El Sistema" in Raploch.
Something definitely must me done about the bias, but let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater!
# snowthistle 2012-12-26 18:09
Anything that brings the benefit of music to children is to be welcomed but I sometimes wonder if El Sistema gives the best value for money. We throw a lot of money at it because it has such a high profile sometimes, in the case of the new Govanhill project, at the expense of music teachers already established in the area.
The whole thing is a bit more complicated than it seems.
# Dundonian West 2012-12-24 12:47
British Broadcasting Corporation IN Scotland.
Excellent article.
# red kite 2012-12-24 12:58
Yes, there are good parts to the overall BBC. Their downfall is in the news / current affairs section which is truly diabolical. They also produce a lot of expensive pap, which does nothing to enhance humanity.
But it's not only in Scotland - I never watch BBC news any more (except the morning 2 min weather & travel). BBC news is regurgitated London political editorial output, "major" party political spiel, sport, and loads of stuff from the USA. Very little else gets any serious coverage.
The 24 hour "news" channel is a joke in terms of journalism.
News and information should be a basic raison d'etre of the BBC. It completely fails in that task.
# gopher3 2012-12-24 14:57
I tend to watch al jazeera or for my news now. The BBC is total rubbish.
# BigHeed 2012-12-24 13:21
A few months ago, during the start of the Saville debacle, Jeremy Vine on Radio 2, seemed emotionally upset when an English woman phoned up and said she would never believe any news story reported by BBC ever again and a few callers then agreed.

This is how you challenge the BBC. If this is how they report in Scotland, how can we trust their output in Syria, Iran North Korea etc.........their diminished reputation is on a shaky nail and if enough people question it then it needs to change or it will be completely broken forever.
# bringiton 2012-12-24 14:42
If you can't beat them,boycott them.
If the YES campaign are satisfied that the BBC in Scotland are taking a biased approach to the referendum,then give them no interviews or anything else which they can use against us.It will then become clear to everyone that the BBC is supporting only one side of the argument and people will treat what they say with a degree of scepticism.
# Iaincraig 2012-12-24 17:01
Quality will always sell. If it is genuinely good then I will go out and buy the DVDs.

Just why should we be taxed to subsidise anti Scottish propaganda and bile? It is a question that the advocates of British State brainwashing have no satisfactory answers to!
# dadsarmy 2012-12-24 17:13
Great article, comments too. Thanks NNS for actual journalism, not just on this article. It's not just a resource to see a different perspective, but actually to see news that nobody, nobody else covers.

Take MacAskill's repudiation of the mis-reporting of the racist statistics, and put this phrase into google, WITH the quote marks:

"This further new analysis shows that"

from your article:

Nobody else seems to have reported that falseness of "increase in anti-English" in spite of the evidence clearly available in table 2b of the spreadsheet on the website.

Perhaps the way to fight the BBC is with the STV and ITV. A public campaign to urge viewers to watch news and current affairs on STV would increase their revenue, and decrease BBC viewer stats.
# rapid 2012-12-24 17:50
If there is a genuine hole join the market, why hasn't someone stepped in to fill the gap?

Look at how the al-Thani family created Al-Jazerra from nothing after they perceived western news agencies to be automatically anti-middle east...

We need the Scots equivalent of Al-Jazeera. It would have a great market in the English speaking world. I would buy into this but like many readers don't have a few £mil lying around.
# arch50 2012-12-24 21:43
this i would vote for the monies for the bbc should go to a new tv and news center for scotland
# bringiton 2012-12-24 22:43
Unfortunately,b roadcasting is currently a reserved matter to Westminster.
Within the UK the BBC are the main organ of state in terms of propaganda and as such will always deny anything which threatens the stasis.
However,after our referendum,it will become clear to the rest of the world that the BBC are no different from Pravda or any other state broadcaster and are not the font of truth and knowledge that they pretend to be.
# bruman 2012-12-24 17:53
This is real journalism. We don't get that too often. I live in rural Angus and Broadband (never mind Infinity), is but a distant dream. If the Internet were a video option for me I would never watch BBc again. Perhaps the Government could speed up the roll-out of Broadband services to us in the sticks. It'll cost money though as most rural communities are so small that commercial interests are very poor.

Happy Xmas to one & all. ang may yer lumps reek!
# rhymer 2012-12-24 18:26
Jeez ! The fact that there is a huge bias in the unionist's favour was apparent to me after I complained about lies from our friend Douglas and was told that, "it was just spin, saying it was a lie is a bit harsh" ! Awwwwwww ! So they can lie but the BBC considers it just spin or propaganda. I guess they must be drinking their own bath water again.
# HelenL 2012-12-24 21:23
You have to take the public with you if you are to prove the BBC is really biased.

Simple things can be done. Give regularly listeners a score card with things like
Guest Name, Representing, Statement 1, Source for facts in statement provided, yes/no,
Was generic phrases such as *there has been a number of scandals* yes/no
Was the data provided ie number of incidents/scandals?
Was time period over which these alleged scandals occurred provided?
Were graphs used to demonstrate the claims?
Were graph accurate?
The data collected over a month say, could all be uploaded to a database for analysis.

It doesn't even have to be a complicated task - perhaps anyone currently taking their Highers could cope.

We've plenty media studies & journalism graduates. Perhaps some decent freelance journalists might get involved too.
# Independista 2012-12-26 16:17
Excellent article, which I am sending off to
We know that media types read and contribute so hopefully it will be picked up by others. Ive also posted it on Media Lens message board as well. If you log on to, click on the tab Interact, then Message Board,and search BBC Scotland it will take you there.
# velofello 2012-12-24 22:28
FreeSat! So why is there a need to pay a license fee to the BBC if you have FreeSat?
Surely the onus is on the supplier to stop the service to a non-paying customer?
Is it the case that the BBC are obliged to transmit on FreeSat as an obligation under the digital TV deal?
Are we really living in a country where watching FreeSat and not paying a BBC license is a criminal act?
Even if "Scouts honour" you do not watch BBC programmes on FreeSat you are committing a criminal act?
Is a court really going to declare that unless you pay a BBC license you are debarred from using FreeSat to watch/listen to any world news from any country?
# Robabody 2012-12-25 00:08
As Elliot Ness put it - follow the money.

Best regards to you all, today and always.
# redcliffe62 2012-12-25 07:34
The BBC do not do very well with collecting broadcasting revenues in Northern Ireland from the catholic community.

Presumably many would watch RTE for a less London based news service.

I heard previously that a large minority did not pay, but do not know how accurate that is. Perhaps the BBC could enlighten us.
# UpSpake 2012-12-25 09:03
Redcliffe62. When the 'Troubles' were at their height in the 70's and 80's. Almost the entire Catholic community in NI stopped paying the License Tax.
The London government were so scared that this fact would 'get out' that they placed a 'D' notice on the subject preventing other news outlets from reporting the facts.
# birnie 2012-12-25 15:55
Search as I might, I can find no trace of any reference by BBC to the First Minister's Christmas broadcast. There are easy-to-find references to broadcasts by the Queen, Cameron and the Welsh First Minister - but nothing on BBC Scotland to let us know that our First Minister has addressed the nation (and a very fine non-party-political address it was, too).

I have contacted the BBC to ask why they have made this startling omission - but I don't expect they will deign to reply.

This makes me absolutely furious! How could any national broadcaster be so insulting to their audience? Can we imagine any other country where the head of government would be treated with such disdain by the official news provider?
# call me dave 2012-12-25 16:52
Bias by omission is par for the course

# Robabody
As Elliot Ness put it - follow the money.

This is in the film right enough but as I am older, I think, I remember it from another film 'All the Presidents men'.

This is usually said to have originated in William Goldman‘s screenplay for the 1976 film All the President’s Men, uttered by the source called “Deep Throat.” (It does not appear in the earlier book by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward.) However, the forthcoming Dictionary of Modern Proverbs, to be published by Yale University Press, quotes Henry Peterson testifying at 1974 Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the nomination of Earl J. Silbert to be United States Attorney: “I would say, ‘Follow the money, Earl, because that’s where it’s going to be.’ Unfortunately, we did not get it following the money because the records were either nonexistent or were destroyed.”

Roll on 2014.
# From The Suburbs 2012-12-25 21:37
This is outrageous and symptomatic of what we are up against.

Because they rely on the BBC or Daily Mail or Daily Express headlines I have great difficulty in persuading friends that Barosso's comments are undermined by senior legal opinion.

Our New Year's resolution for every YES supporter is to knock on at least 1000 doors in 2013.

We have 3 million voters to speak to as we can't rely on the Anglo Scottish media.
# bodun 2012-12-26 16:59
Regarding the First Minister's broadcast, see this:
# Arraniki 2012-12-25 19:20
No fee to the BBC.

I donated it to the Independence campaign.

# cuckooshoe 2012-12-26 01:50
I would like to suggest an e-petition.....
# rhymer 2012-12-26 15:01
+. One phone call to my bank and no direct debit.
Wow! Immediate completion of my New Year's resolution.
+ No more being stupid and allowing the BBC to use my money 8
to pay for their anti-independence lies and propaganda.
# Roll_On_2011 2012-12-26 16:26

“ One phone call to my bank and no direct debit.”

rhymer as far as I am aware you can only cancel a direct debit with your bank in writing and not via the phone…. But there again it may have changed since I did it and I may be wrong.

It appears that the ‘British Brainwashing Corporation’ is about to be investigated for splashing the taxpayer’s cash about:

By the way Mods the ‘British Brainwashing Corporation’ comes straight from Wee Ecks mouth:

“ The usual impartiality of the British Brainwashing Corporation at its very best “… its right at the start:[/
# Northesk 2013-01-09 19:20
You can cancel a direct debit via the phone. I've done it for years.
# amfraeembro 2012-12-26 16:47

I cancelled mine on internet banking.
# Early Ball 2012-12-27 07:57
I always thought, mainly from reading this site, that the BBC was exempt from FOI requests.

The ToryGraph seems to have managed it though.
# Roll_On_2011 2012-12-27 08:17
Early Ball

“ I always thought, mainly from reading this site, that the BBC was exempt from FOI requests. “

As far as I know they are… for, so called, commercial reasons.

But if you read the article in the link to the Independent, in my post two above yours, you will see it was sparked off as follows:

Quote from the Independent article

“ The investigation was sparked after George Entwistle, the former director general, stood down over the Jimmy Savile scandal with a £450,000 pay-off - double the amount he was entitled to.

The probe also comes after parliament's Public Accounts Committee criticised the BBC's use of licence fee payers' money as "cavalier" and "out of line with public expectations". “

The ‘British Brainwashing Corporation’ are not immune to the National Audit Office (NAO), a quango that oversees taxpayers spending.

# UpSpake 2012-12-27 09:45
No, but the BBC imagine that they are above the people who pay them to serve them. Untenable state of affairs.
The BBC need the License Tax payers. Do we really need them ?.
# Jacko 2012-12-28 02:04
Think we might be missing the point here folks.

We now have confirmation that BBC Scotland is not accountable to anyone nor, any body in Scotland.

Confirmation that they do not serve the Scottish nation nor it's populace, but that they do serve an external master. This is the message that should be re-iterated at each and every opportunity.

Rather than chasing the ghost that is a complaint to the BBC, we should be highlighting (nay! shouting from the rooftops!!) that BBC Scotland is nothing more than a mouthpiece of BBC London.

Whenever an independence leaning spokesperson is on Reporting Scotland or Newsnight Scotland, they should ask the question of each presenter, "Do BBC Scotland have any accountability, in Scotland, for it's output?"

It should be made abundantly clear to all and sundry, at every given opportunity, that BBC Scotland serves NOT the people of Scotland but it's own self interest.
# call me dave 2012-12-28 02:26
I agree entirely.
Although the clue has always been in the name recent events within the BBC have served to clarify and corroborate your point.

Roll on 2014
# NkosiEcosse 2013-01-03 13:54
After moving to the shores of Loch Onich because of a new job in Torlundy, we found 3 letters addressed to the legal occupier that the BBC (Capita) were staring an investigation into the fact that someone at the address was using a TV set but had no licence. We are waiting in anticipation for the knock on the door so we can tell them to p--- off. We actually have a TV licence as my wife believes we should pay it even after I tell her not to for the very reasons all laid out above.
# soutron 2013-01-03 22:06
Here is a link as promised earlier in the thread to an e petition relating to the BBC and it's self regulation with regard to referenda. If you think that it is inappropriate and would rather see the organisation fall under Ofcom regulation (specifically section 6 of Ofcom's broadcasting code) then please feel free to sign. There's been a really good response since it was put up yesterday. If we can make this information more widely known I think people would be genuinely shocked. We will have succeeded even if we can encourage a few undecided voters to question the validity of BBC broadcasts on Scottish independence over the next 2 years.
# bruman 2013-01-04 06:52
# soutron 2013-01-04 11:10
Ah yes, that would be helpful. Here it is:

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