It’s time for a Scottish public service broadcaster

Well that’s it Scotland. You’re not getting your own hour long news programme on the BBC. Even the prospect of an hour of Jackie Bird has been deemed too dangerously separatist by the BBC’s mandarins in London. A report in this week’s Sunday Herald says that the idea of an hour long Scottish based news programme combining Scottish news, UK news, and international news has now been definitively ruled out by the BBC. You’d have thought they’d have relished the idea of a Reporting Scotland on steroids telling us all how crappy the Scottish NHS is, how rubbish Police Scotland are, and with the opportunity to give twice as long to reheated Labour press releases as the usually do, but apparently depriving us of 30 minutes of news about the English NHS and the travails of the England cricket and fitba teams has been deemed as being unconducive to the United bit of this United Kingdom.

In a way, we should be glad. The idea of a Scottish Six news programme was always only a sop to distract us from the real issue. The real issue is the shameful lack of a dedicated Scottish public service broadcaster. An extra half hour of Jackie Bird, murrdurrs, wee cute kittens and fitba is not what Scotland needs. What Scotland needs is a national channel of its own. Catalonia has it. The Basque Country has it. Even tiny Gagauzia has it. But here in Scotland we’re told that even an extra 30 minutes of news is a dangerous step too far. A Scottish public service broadcaster is totally beyond the pale of acceptable public discourse, certainly on the BBC.

It’s not remarkable to expect Scotland to have its own public service broadcaster, what’s remarkable is that Scotland doesn’t have one already. What’s even more remarkable is that this shameful lack of respect for Scotland by a Westminster which greedily reserves control of news, current affairs and cultural output to itself isn’t more of a political issue than it is. Because it’s a national disgrace. What’s most remarkable of all is that certain Scottish journalists and commentators argue against even having a Scottish Six news programme, never mind a Scottish national broadcaster.

There are Scottish journalists who actually argue against promoting Scottish journalism. Just think on that for a minute. You’d think that Scottish journalists would welcome all and every initiative which boosts the profile of Scottish journalism, and which allows it to reach the widest audience possible within Scotland. But this is Scotland, where for too many the Cringe is a substitute for a backbone.

Scotland is appallingly poorly served by the BBC. The Corporation includes such typically Scottish programmes as Question Time and Mrs Brown’s Boys in its “Scottish output” statistics as a way to pretend that Scotland gets more in the way of TV production than it actually does. Real Scottish programmes are rare indeed.

Back in the 1990s, during the discussions about setting up a Scottish parliament, the devolution of broadcasting within Scotland was one of the powers that supporters of devolution wanted and expected to be devolved to Holyrood. The power was removed by Tony Blair and his supporters and control of broadcasting was included on the list of reserved powers. One of the effects of this was that after the UK signed up to the European Charter for the Protection of Minority and Regional Languages and signed a treaty commitment to giving Scottish Gaelic the same degree of protection as Welsh, a predominantly Gaelic TV channel became a legal obligation. Because broadcasting is reserved to Westminster, that meant that the House of Commons and assorted Tory MPs who wouldn’t be able to distinguish the Scottish Gaelic language from Slovene or Hungarian had more of a say on setting up a Scottish Gaelic channel than Scotland’s own parliament.

The consequence of broadcasting being reserved to Westminster is that voters in Scotland end up hearing more about the health service or education in England than they do about those in Scotland. It means that when some public service is mired in crisis and confusion that Scottish news outlets are driven to publish similar stories about the equivalent in Scotland. It means that during elections Unionist parties can conflate devolved and reserved issues because the electorate are unclear which is which.

The people who object to a Scottish Six, who would object even more vociferously to a Scottish national public service broadcaster, all too often do so on the grounds that such a service would be nothing more than “SNP TV”. Yet these are the self-same people who claim that the BBC is completely impartial and unbiased when it comes to reporting on Scottish politics and current affairs. They never explain why a Scottish public service broadcasting corporation which would presumably be set up with the same safeguards and structures that allow the BBC its lofty neutrality would be little more than the propaganda arm of the independence movement, whereas its British equivalent is studiously above any such bias. They can’t have it both ways. The same structures which guarantee BBC neutrality and lack of bias would operate in the exact same way in any Scottish Broadcasting Corporation.

The truth is that the refusal of the Unionist parties and their supporters to countenance the establishment of a Scottish public service broadcaster on the grounds that it would be a propaganda service for the SNP are tacitly admitting that the BBC is indeed biased and subject to the political influence of Westminster. The real reason they object to a Scottish public service broadcaster is because the BBC was instrumental in flooding our airwaves with pro-British propaganda during the first independence referendum, and the Unionist establishment expects it to perform the same service for Britain in the second.

The argument has progressed beyond asking meekly for a 30 minute consideration from the BBC. It’s time that the Scottish Government, the SNP, and other pro-independence parties started to point out that Scotland doesn’t just suffer from a democratic deficit under Westminster, we suffer from a broadcasting deficit as well. A devolved nation having its own public service broadcasting service is the normal state of affairs in Europe. It’s Scotland which is the shameful exception. It’s time we had a Scottish television service that was worthy of the name, because we’re not getting it from a BBC that doesn’t even think Scotland is worthy of a news programme of its own.

Audio version of this blog post, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984

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36 comments on “It’s time for a Scottish public service broadcaster

  1. […] Wee Ginger Dug It’s time for a Scottish public service broadcaster […]

  2. Waiting for Scotland says:

    Quelle surprise!

    Any increase in coverage of events in Scotland would only provide another platform for highlighting the mendacity of the South of Derby gang currently in control of the UK state.

    The Guv’nor’s decision was cynical and made for tactical reasons. Especially given the current state of reportage in Scotland would seem to give them value for money. Makes sense.

    There is a bewildering level of opposition among our own people of boldly stepping onto the world stage. A significant segment of our society is still somewhat content to leave all decisions of their future in the hands of spivs in London who would gladly sell them into serfdom.

    But the popular press has shot its bolt. There are no more arrows in its quiver. It cannot disguise that the Brexit emperor has no clothes. It can only deflect using the circus that is Washington.

    The spivs have twigged that the next Independence referendum will be their last one. The fact they are unwilling to add an hour of Scottish perspective to their schedule may mean they have begun to face reality. They have concluded that increasing media investment in Scotland gains them nothing.

    On the other hand, the fact that BBC cannot conceive of a Scotland outwith the UK, limiting BBC Scotland’s ability to oppose Independence, it seems to me, is good news. There is usually a silver lining if you look for one.

  3. John McLeod says:

    I agree that the issue is not about another 30 minute slot every day. The real issue is about what we are missing by not having a Scottish public service broadcaster with the power to use our licence fee money to make and commission programmes that add diversity and depth to our cultural and political life. Some of these programmes would be sold to other countries and have the effect of strengthening their understanding of what Scotland has to offer. A proper Scottish broadcaster would also act as a catalyst for change in the newspaper and film industries. It is not hard to see what we are missing – just visit neighbouring countries with similar size population (Ireland, Norway, Denmark). Once we are independent we will NEED a Scottish public sector broadcaster STRAIGHT AWAY as a key player in facilitating the national dialogue around the new constitution.

  4. awkwardboy says:

    Are not all other state broadcasters mere propaganda services? Is really a good thing to go a create another ooughts anne? The empty space that was left when we abandoned the beeb has been filled with a vast array of different thd voices, why would I give up this multi hued spectrum for a monochrome state voice again?

    • awkwardboy says:

      another one? not an ooughts anne

    • Ealasaid says:

      How do you know what you are missing if you have never had or experienced it? Scotland has proportional representation in our government allowing many voices to be heard in its Parliament and its committees. Why do you think that our own broadcasting would not reflect that? Scotland has many voices from its many diverse regions with their own micro cultures that could interact and educate and entertain each other. Why are you so keen to shut all those voices down?

      • awkwardboy says:

        Can you point to a single state broadcaster that is not a mouthpeice for the state? Instead of replicating a poor idea can we not try something different. I admit I have no idea what the right solution is, but at the same I’m quite certain that doing the same thing again and expecting a different result is almost certainly not the right answer.

        • Guga says:

          You need to get out a bit more. How many other “state broadcasters” have you actually listened to in any other countries? Try listening, for example, to the Australian ABC. They may be a wee bit conservative, but they don’t toe the party line. Even RT does not toe the party line in that they have items on their news and other programmes that are critical of their own government.

          The EBC, on the other hand is little other than an English based, and English biased service which virtually ignores anything to do with Scotland (or Wales, or Northern Ireland – other than stealing their TV tax money to prop up their own programmes). It definitely toes the party line of the English government, and fills its news with items on English cricket, English football, the English NHS, the English church, English education etc. etc.

          We should have had an independent Scottish broadcasting service many, many years ago, but we have had too many brainwashed Scots suffering from the cringe factor.

  5. Jimmy the Pict says:

    Then we get comments from Marr this morning that is only one party is anti-brexit, the LibDems. You really couldn’t make it up. BBC accurate fair and impartial my derrière. Pardon my French.

  6. Bamstick says:

    I think we should do what Radio Caroline did in the 1960’s.

    Start up a “Pirate” Scottish Broadcast. Don’t know much about how to do it but it could be offshore? or at the top of one of our mountains? or in the back of a moving van?

    We need to get the message out somehow.

    • Guga says:

      We used to have Radio Free Scotland in the 50s and 60s, so there is nothing to stop us doing it again, either from the back of a van or from a ship outside the 12 mile limit.

  7. gus1940 says:

    Although not a Public Service Broadcaster we do have a Scottish broadcast organisation – it is called STV.

    It is a business in competition with The BBC so why doesn’t it bite the bullet and come out for Independence – it seems to be a nobrainer.

    When does STV’s license next come up for renewal?

    • Guga says:

      STV is English owned and English controlled, just like the majority of our so-called Scottih newspapers (e.g. the Hootsmon, the Herald and the Daily Retard)

  8. emilytom67 says:

    Biggest danger to Scotland now/then/future are Scots themselves,well so called Scots that accept and bow to all the c–p heaped on them,lets not forget this is no small minority,what a mealy mouthed lot of fcukers subservient/pusillanimous quislings,will we ever be free of them it,s very doubtful.

  9. […] Sourced through from: […]

  10. helenarmet says:

    Don’t moan about the media, become the media seems to me to me the order of the day. Some of us are already taking these small steps,here in Orkney we have launched our own on line newspaper The Orkney News which offers local people news from a different perspective, if more people showed a commitment to offering up an alternative voice, then an alternative voice more people would hear. Small drips lead to large puddles.

  11. mogabee says:

    As someone who because of location watches NI tv, I can say with confidance that Scotland could make programmes the envy of the world!

    Political progs are a squillion times better with interviewers asking hard hitting questions of NI politicians and demanding answers..shock horror that we could not do the same…

    I think back to some of the great Scottish comedies and dramas produced. Where are they now?

  12. Robert Graham says:

    The Westminster establishment will give up control of broadcasting over our dead bodies , you can never allow people to openly voice opinions that might not follow the Government’s line .
    However i have been having a laugh at Treesus supposed Special relationship with the Donald , and his view of Treesus BBC , last week has been very entertaining , the BBC being accused of False News by the Donald and his spokesperson Sebastian Gorka now he is a real problem for every BBC commentator even Brillo Nut Neil shows real respect for this attack dog , he hands all BBC mouthpieces their arse on a plate , wipes the floor with all of them , he makes it Personal and they cant handle it , The SNP should as a matter of urgency adopt his method of dealing with the BBC , now that really would be fun people would pay to watch that spectical .

  13. emilytom67 says:

    Have said this for long and weary Robert,we always take a step back instead of being right in their faces,portray them for what they are,”kings shilling men” make them face the public and tell them they have no agenda and are open and honest,get right intae them.

    • Robert Graham says:

      My comment on Trump & Mr Gorka has maybe confused a few folk on Wings it wasn’t meant as an endorsement of either just a suggestion as how to deal with a hostile BBC Scotland

  14. Dan Huil says:

    Britnat bbc scum. Enemies of Scotland.

  15. Macart says:

    That programme was only ever a consideration so long as we were eating cereal (If it ever were a serious consideration). Dangled like a carrot, as it were. The instant there was the possibility of a second indyref, it was doomed. Can’t say as I’m terribly disappointed right enough. It would never have been what the Scottish public wanted, but what the UK state needed.

    I’d guess the only time a public broadcaster will be truly viable and desirable in Scotland is when it is in the hands of the Scottish public to make it happen.

    So, who’s for taking back control of our airwaves then? 🙂

  16. Jim Chalmers says:

    The problem with alternatives to the standard broadcasting channels is how to get out to the public. Stuff on YouTube has been great for years, but it tends to be speaking to the converted.

    An alternative could be to use the new Facebook video channels (see e.g. An evening news programme doing something like Wings over Scotland does could go viral; taking what the BBC broadcasts and telling what’s wrong with it and broadcasting the stories the BBC (and STV) ignores.

    I don’t have the skills to do this, but there must be quite a few Yessers who could (here’s lookin at you, Mr. Bateman).

  17. Craig P says:

    The first thing any invader does is take control of the broadcasting stations and the oil wells.

    There was no way the neo-liberal Tony Blair was going to release control of either.

  18. Jan cowan says:

    SBC is essential for Scotland and her people but unlikely before before Scottish independence. That’s when I’ll admit a TV to my home again!

  19. WM wants to keep Scotland as part of there police state where Scottish journalist there Nazi members

  20. Jonathan Lindsay says:

    Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.

  21. bedelsten says:

    Moaning that the English state broadcaster is doing what is in its charter, promoting a united kingdom, while giving it the attention it craves and then simultaneously chastising it, is somewhat counterproductive. It will not change under those circumstances. It might change if there was competition for its attention. But remember, a) it gets a free ride with the licence fee and b) for such competition to be commercially viable it would (probably) need to pander to the lowest common denominator, perish the thought, which excludes funding the extensive news plagiarising services the English state broadcaster deploys.

    Let’s step back a bit and consider the various components of what is required. Local news – the really local news, what is happening in the village – bin days, surgery hours, dog crap etc., it is on Facebook and residents either make it work, or don’t. Regional news – a bit tricky because council activities are not well covered anywhere though there is Fubar on Facebook for stuff that actually concerns people. Sports news – follow the appropriate web site. Transport news – follow the appropriate web site. Weather – ditto. Political news – covered – read it here or follow a link at the right. What’s left? Culture perhaps. Filums on Netflix or Amazon prime. Music – endless streaming music sites. And so on.

    So, it is quite possible to avoid the output of the English state broadcaster though it does require a bit of work finding all the web sites. I now have a folder with all the relevant news web sites bookmarked, choose the “Open all in tabs” option and wait while all the tabs open. One side effect of the ready availability of alternative sources of information is, at least from my perspective, is the increasing trivialisation of the output from the English state broadcaster. Just looks at the endless pretty pictures of sunsets and waterfalls on the web site. That is not news. It is not information. It is barely culture. It is filling in space cheaply. Well, at least I am not paying for it.

  22. To be honest, I can wait for another 24 months to be rid of the entire corrupt English Establishment, a cornerstone of which is the BBC.
    There is now a yawning chasm between what Scotland strives for, and what England has settled for.
    On a personal level, 30 minutes of BBC drivel is about all I can stand at a time, which these days, is not very often.
    At BBC Scotland we have a homogenous gaggle of Boughtandpaidfors, all from the same middle class backgrounds, who are recruited because they are ‘the right sort’.
    BBC will continue to broadcast Up Here, to feed the belief systems of the British/English/ Proudscotbuts, as they campaign for the Reunification of EngBritland.
    I can’t get excited or agitated with this toss any more.
    Not long now.

  23. Clive Scott says:

    Jack, please cancel your BBC licence and write a scathing letter to Donalda at Pacific Quay. Every Yes voter should do likewise.

    • As I observe, Clive, only two years to go.
      I dip in every now and then just to see what they’re up to.
      The analogy which I used before was that of a festering sore. Each time that I access the Beeb, it is akin to the overwhelming but ultimately counterproductive urge we all have to pick at a scab. Keep doing that and it will never heal. I’m down to once or twice per week.
      The midweek ‘Newsnicht’ /Scotland 2016 died a death because nobody was watching.
      It must have put a big dent in the Dead Tree Scrollers weekly pin money right enough.
      It was a nice little appearance money earner for a cosy wee group of the privileged few who could be guaranteed to come on and ‘SNP Pish’ on cue.
      BBC Radio Jordanhill is still full of the Rentagob SNP Bad mob.
      Where will they find work when we retake our country from their Paymasters?

  24. Robert Graham says:

    well as every answer from Tory Treesa has been NO – NO – NO I wonder if we asked if she could make sure we never ever ever have a referendum would she AHHHHHHHHHH yer getting one whether you like it or not , worth a chance maybe ? ha ha , well we dont get anything we ask for , possibly time for reverse strategy eh , ok nurse just coming meds time you see ..

  25. Gavin.C.Barrie says:

    Dammit Awkwardboy, I’ve just ages searching out oughts anne on Wikileaks and Thesaurus.

    BBC? STV? Not for me anymore. Eyes and ears are now fully operational.

    Why are so many of our nation not annoyed, frustrated, over the dearth of Scottish news, documentaries, drama? I reckon the Establishment’s “Grand Assimilation Plan” has much to do with it.

    Instance how often is a Scot or Irish portrayed as a drunk in their English drama programmes, the Welsh as yokels? How often the Southern English portrayed as sensitive sophisticated sensitive beings, and the English Northerners as sweaty manual workers?

    And so your comfortably off Scots ladies and gents identify with the sophisticated and sensitive model, like lemmings.

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