Despite mounting pressure, the BBC is still resisting any prospect of Scotland getting its own national channel. Due to the EU charter commitments of the UK Government to protect and foster the minority and regional languages, we’ve got BBC Alba broadcasting in Gaelic, but there’s no similar European treaty obligation to provide a national channel for Scotland in English. Since the UK government didn’t ratify chapter 3 of the treaty in respect of Scots, only chapter 2, there’s no obligation to provide a national Scots language channel either. This leaves Scotland, which we’re repeatedly told is the most devolved nation in the history of devolviness, as the only self-governing or autonomous country or territory in Europe without its own publicly owned TV channel. It’s pathetic.
The only thing more pathetic than the BBC’s treatment of Scotland is the acquiescence of certain Unionist parties and commentators in the BBC’s metropolitan dismissal of Scotland’s needs. People who fancy themselves as representatives of Scotland, who style themselves as serious commentators on Scottish affairs, think that it’s just fine and dandy that Scotland doesn’t have its own national terrestrial TV channel. It would just be SNP propaganda and wall to wall Scottish country dancing, they scoff as they dance around the real issue.
The real issue is of course that London control of broadcasting ensures that Scottish viewers have no alternative to a London-centric view of the world. That favours the Unionist narrative, as became very clear during the independence referendum campaign which was portrayed on our TV screens exclusively according to the Unionist narrative. We had endless discussions about economic fears and warnings, because that was the ground upon which the Better Together campaign chose to fight the independence referendum, but almost nothing about non-economic arguments for independence – arguments about democracy, accountability and fair representation. We’re Scottish you see, and we don’t really understand abstract concepts.
Even the removal of weapons of mass destruction from Scotland was presented as an economic issue. It will cost hundreds, no thousands, no bazillions of jobs and ruin the economy you know, we were told. Every time Jackie Baillie appeared on the telly the economic ruin that would befall Scotland if we get rid of Trident was inflated like her ego. Just how far removed from reality, hell, how far removed from common humanity, do you have to be when your main consideration concerning weapons which can evaporate cities and render thousands of square miles uninhabitable for hundreds of years is how much money you’re making out of them? You have to be as sick as BBC Scotland and the Labour party, and that’s pretty sick indeed. BBC Scotland really ought to look at what happened to Labour in Scotland. That’s going to be your fate too if you’re not very careful.
However all this suits our rapidly crumbling Unionist establishment just fine. Control the airwaves and you control the access to information for that not insubstantial segment of the population that doesn’t use or trust the Internet. And that would be the older population which swung the vote in favour of Scotland remaining within the UK. In the meantime the Westminions keep telling us that Scotland is a unique country, so unique that it doesn’t need its own telly, so unique that its culture is dangerously divisive when it’s not being kitsch and parochial.
This week, Tony Hall, the heid bummer of the BBC, and Ken MacQuarrie the heid bummer of BBC Scotland, actually deigned to appear before MSPs at Holyrood and answer their questions. Or more accurately, the MSPs asked questions and Tone and Ken responded with waffle and management wankspeak. They refused to concede that Scotland requires its own TV channel. Scotland benefits from the BBC being a British institution, Tone said, buried amongst meaningless polysyllables about actualisation, proactivity and going forward into non linear channels in a synergistic fashion.
What it all boiled down to was that Scotland needs the BBC as a British institution to teach us civilised values like Bake Off and Strictly and Nicolas Witchell having a sycophanspasm over the latest photies of a skinny wummin who is apparently a role model because she married well. That’s feminism telt then. Left to our own devices we’d be painting our faces blue and tearing one another apart because we’re so divided and haven’t progressed socially since we made the realisation that burning virgins in wicker men didn’t actually have much of an effect on getting the rain to stop. Scotland is divided and we need the British state and its institutions to act as a neutral referee you see. We were already divided, only then we had the independence referendum and that went and divided us all over again. We have to be saved from this sort of thing. They’re only doing it for our own good. So that’s alright then. You can turn on your telly and be patronised by Jackie Bird safe in the knowledge that you’re being improved by it.
Tony isn’t going to allow Scotland to get its own TV channel, but if we’re good girls and boys we might be allowed a sort of British Scottish version of youtube. So that’s going to be videos of cats wearing tartan ribbons doing cute things in Coatbridge and shakey hand held mobile phone footage of a royal visit to Crathie church. There will be all the memorable moments from BBC Scotland’s flagship current affairs programme Scotland 2014/15/16 and its terribly expensive presenter who didn’t get the job because she’s related to a former leader of the Labour party. So that will take up at least 10 seconds of footage. And fitba, lots and lots of fitba. It will be a sort of online repository of the kind of crap that we’ve been complaining for decades that the BBC paps off on us. Only it’s a safe bet that we won’t be allowed to leave any comments on it or interact with it in any meaningful way, because if there’s one thing that the BBC can’t handle it’s criticism. So that’s really going to satisfy Scottish demands for proper representation in broadcasting.
The BBC isn’t going to change. The corporation is part and parcel of the British state and always will be. All we can do in the meantime is to keep arguing the case for a Scottish public service broadcaster and pointing out that having one is what is normal. It’s not having one that needs justification.
Now over to Sally for the weather. It’s going to rain on the BBC from now until we get independence.
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