The BBC’s Game of Thrawn

gameofthrawn
The first set of viewing figures for the new BBC Scotland channel have been released, and as expected they’re pretty dire. The highest that the new channel has achieved is 36,000 viewers on April 4, plunging to under 9,000 on April 8. The new channel’s quiz show Wonderball has at times achieved an audience of just 2760. Even in a media environment where television viewership is fractured amongst dozens of channels, digital platforms, and downloading, that’s not great. The new channel also faced the additional problem that just under half the population of Scotland has a deep distrust of the BBC and has zero faith in BBC management’s commitment to quality Scottish broadcasting. For a large number of people in Scotland, BBC impartiality is the best joke on the BBC. On the other side of the debate, some 25% of people in Scotland are dyed in the wool British nationalists who don’t want anything Scottish to pollute their red white and blue eyeballs.

However it’s not all bad. The new channel’s flagship news programme has its faults, but it’s trying to get away from the fitba, murrdurrs and wee cute kittens formula which characterises Reporting Scotlandshire on BBC1, while the new debate show is attempting to do something different from the right wing slagfest that Question Time has become. However a news programme being broadcast at 9pm on a minor channel is up against prime time drama on the other channels. It was always going to struggle to attract an audience. Those of us of a more cynical turn of mind might suspect that that was always the plan.

Despite the very obvious financial constraints on the channel which clearly restrict the types of programme it broadcasts, there are a few decent programmes on the channel, programmes which would otherwise never see the light of day. I’ve enjoyed the recent documentary about Glasgow drag queens, and the series going behind the scenes at Glasgow Central train station. I also enjoyed Nae Pasaran, the documentary about Scottish factory workers’ refusal to service the Chilean dictator Pinochet’s aircraft which were being used against the people, and documentary about the gale that devastated Glasgow in 1968. But what all these programmes have in common is that they are relatively inexpensive to produce.

However given the budgetary constraints, we’re not going to see an expensively produced costume drama, or a multi-camera series filmed in an exotic location featuring big name stars. Those are the kinds of shows which are going to remain the preserve of BBC1. The BBC’s metropolitan bosses are quite stubborn in their insistence that they’ll remain in charge and Scotland can be fobbed off with a few crumbs. You can forget about a Scottish Game of Thrones when BBC management is only interested in their Game of Thrawn.

Those of us within the independence movement who were critical of the new channel were critical not because we oppose more Scottish produced television, our argument has always been that Scotland is woefully under-represented in television, and more Scottish produced television is always going to be a good thing. We were, and are, critical because we feared that the new channel was being set up as an underfunded and under-resourced McGhetto channel, and as such it was being set up to fail. Then BBC management and opponents of the devolution of broadcasting would be able to turn around and say that there is no demand for Scottish produced television, and British nationalists in Scotland would say that if Scotland can’t even support its own TV channel, then it certainly isn’t going to support an independent state.

The argument for Scottish produced broadcasting, and for the devolution of broadcasting, was always that Scotland needs its own window on the world. A nation which is self-governing, even within the restrictions imposed upon it by Westminster’s half-hearted devolution, needs a platform which allows it to discuss those issues which are important, and needs a window upon the wider world. What we’ve been given with this new BBC Scotland channel is a rickety ladder offering a view out of the back of the building onto a rubbish strewn alleyway. It’s hardly surprising that viewing figures have not been that great.

Now in a classic example of a self-fulfilling prophecy, former BBC producer and editor Tim Luckhurst has just gone and said that there’s no demand for a Scottish television channel. In an interview with that great bastion and supporter of all things Scottish, the Daily Mail, Tim said that setting up the new channel was a “grave injustice to licence fee payers” and said that it meant that scarce resources were being thrown into a bottomless pit.

What the Daily Mail didn’t tell you was that Tim used to be an editor of The Scotsman, and was formerly a Westminster press officer for the Labour party’s contingent of Scottish MPs. He was himself a Labour party candidate in the 1987 general election. So perhaps his remarks about the new channel can be filed under, “Well, he would say that wouldn’t he.” Those of us with long memories have not forgotten that broadcasting was originally included amongst the set of powers which were proposed to be devolved to the new Scottish parliament when devolution was being discussed in the 1990s, but that it was removed and transferred to the list of powers to be reserved to Westminster at the behest of Labour MPs from Scotland.

Even with the new channel, Scotland still receives a lower proportion of the licence fee back than do Wales or Northern Ireland. BBC management in London is still treating Scotland as a cash cow. Even worse, the BBC still sees its role as being a self-consciously British institution which means that the corporation is constitutionally incapable of reporting fairly on a Scottish politics which is defined by the question of whether Scotland wants to be a part of the British state. It’s hardly surprising that so many people in Scotland are simply giving up on paying the licence fee. Scotland has the largest proportion of non-payers of the licence fee of any part of the UK after Northern Ireland, and the number continues to grow. The new BBC Scotland channel isn’t going to prevent the haemorrhage.

The new channel was set up in order to provide a distraction from the long standing demand for an hour long Scottish news programme at 6 o’clock on BBC1. It hasn’t succeeded. The case for an hour long Scottish news progamme at six on BBC1 remains as strong as ever, and has only been reinforced by the low viewing figures for the new channel. It’s only when it’s on the main channel that people are actually going to watch it, and that’s precisely why BBC management don’t want it to happen.

The case for Scottish devolution of broadcasting has also been reinforced by the low viewing figures for the new channel. It might be called BBC Scotland, but its budget and funding are determined by BBC management in London, and it’s ultimately answerable to BBC management in London. Only Scottish control of broadcasting will allow Scottish television to flourish. Only then can Scotland have control over television budgets and programming priorities. It’s only then that Scotland can have its window on the world that offers a grandstand view, instead of the tartan frosted window that the BBC is fobbing us off with.


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37 comments on “The BBC’s Game of Thrawn

  1. Terry callachan says:

    Yes you can wear a kilt but no tartan it has to be a Union Jack kilt.
    BBC can’t increase the Scottish content of tv and radio in Scotland because part of the destabilisation of Scotland plan is to erase Scotland’s Scottish identity you can’t do that by showing Scottish stuff.

  2. […] Wee Ginger Dug The BBC’s Game of Thrawn The first set of viewing figures for the new BBC Scotland channel have been released, […]

  3. 2p3rf3ct says:

    Born to fail, in so many ways – but they can say ‘they tried’. We can say ‘did they f*ck’.

  4. David Howdle says:

    Minor matter but in the interest of accuracy. Nae Pasaran is about the refusal by workers at the Rolls Royce factory in E Kilbride to service RR engines from planes being used to kill civilians by the Pinochet regime in Chile and the wonderful morale boosting effect their actions had on the population.

  5. bringiton says:

    Nothing much will change fundamentally until broadcasting is either devolved or under the control of an independent Scottish state.
    The former is unlikely to ever happen,so we are stuck with the London centric management for the immediate future.
    Their pretendy devolved channel is in line with Westminster’s pretendy political devolution.
    Smoke and mirrors.
    At the end of the day,their mission is to bring “social harmony” to all the nations of the UK,by hook or by crook and that is especially the case when their Tory masters at Westminster are hell bent on a one nation scenario where Scotland no longer exists.

  6. velofello says:

    The BBC, do I care? The sooner it renames itself EBC the better. And good riddance.

  7. Anne Martin says:

    I have to admit that I find Debate Night a very refreshing change from Question Time and I can watch it without bursting a blood vessel or throwing things at the tele! The programme about the 2014 referendum was also good IMO.

    • Charles McGregor says:

      I haven’t watched it since the night they had Professor Tomkins, Jenny Marra and Alex Massie with one alleged neutral academic and one solitary wee lassie SNP MSP I immediately switched off and phoned the BBC complaints line.

  8. aaron blue says:

    The constant deceit peddled by the bbc in Scotland is disgusting.

  9. douglasclark says:

    I went looking for this new Scottish BBC channel. I am not saying it wasn’t there, though I never found it. What I am saying is that it was never advertised appropriately. even if I was “where you are”.

    I have, so far, have had nothing “pushed” to me by this new channel and I am damned if I am going to go looking for it anymore.

    I know, you will all hate me for this, but I do pay my licence fee. But this is the pits. You open a new channel and you miss me utterly with your advertising ‘strategy’ to the extent that I hardly knew it existed?

    That is like the guys that just burnt money on some Scottish island. The entire BBC management should do the same thing as they are either that incompetent or anarchic.

  10. Dave tewart says:

    Stopped watching the TV media a good few years back.
    Most of it is just fill up repeats.
    Don’t have a TV licence and get the usual threat letters.
    Ditch the licence and use the Dugdale Defense.
    Fair Comment, How could I possibly know that I was watching Live TV, most of the published programmes are repeats from the last century.
    Agree with you Paul, I know lots of people who have stopped watching EBC news as they realise it is spun to reflect Westminster’s agenda.
    STV isn’t much better I’m told by my brother, he gets a free licence.
    Recent rumours say the EBC are going to reintroduce the radio licence to help offset the age related free licence.
    The EBC just bought into Netflx and Freeview TV channels that advertise in a deal that sold the Blue Planet to Netflix.

  11. Robert Kerr says:

    Only watch BBC4 docs and foreign imports. Never watch news and politics. never watch this new channel nor shall in future.

    BBC has lodt me for all time. BBC is where truth goes to die.

    Donalda where is your viewers? Goodbye Britnat enoblement!

  12. Alba woman says:

    The BBC revealed its true nature during Indy ref 1….I have not watched any of its news or misreporting Scotland since…..just can’t look at those faces or listen to those voices who so easily trashed the future of my grandchildren.

  13. Liz g says:

    If ever there was an illustration of ” too little, too late “, this is it,in fact it’s so little,so late,it’s almost a Vow!

  14. Charles McGregor says:

    Meanwhile on SMSM we have the creeping takeover. Weather reporters, sports reporters, outside broadcast reporters next will be the anchor men and women, Yes that is YOU you gullible useful idiots.

    Shuild hae checked the length o yon spurtle afore ye supped wi the Deil.

    Ye reap whit ye sow.

  15. Tony Taylor says:

    Surprised that no-one mentioned BBC Jockinese is the same as BBC2 up to 7PM and then shows Scottish -type content for 3 hours before closing.

  16. Dave tewart says:

    They are just presenters of the message.
    Was really surprised last week to hear the outgoing controller of R4 admit to being a member of the EBC news committee.
    Noticed when I used to listen to R4 in the morning that the overnight news was from the World Service and had their agenda, when the DAY SHIFT started the running order of the news changed and news articles removed from the broadcast.
    So there you have it, in westmonster we have a London based committee that filters the NEWS for you and not just for R4, have sampled a few EBC stations and they all have the same agenda although pushed as LOCAL news. Even Gaelic Radio use the same script. Classic FM from Global use the same script, there’s a surprise.
    Lessons learnt by the Nazi Party from the EBC who call out RT for propaganda.
    The local stations on EBC are not independent, they can’t even tell you what is happening near you and now the EBC is financing the failing paper based media with our tax money plus the EBC tax.
    The EBC don’t use the MetOffice for weather reports as it is too expensive so where we had weather professionals in the past we just have some one to read out the report, they may not actually understand the science behind the report. Only the military still employ weather forecasters and they are getting few and far between, 2 in Scotand I’m told.

  17. BBC is English, from the 3 1/4 hegemony broadcast to all countries on these isles every morning, Dan Walker introducing the 150 seconds of Scotland is Shite from PQ as News Where Yo Are by assuring his audience that the ‘National’ news would follow, on the hour, to Home Counties Sit Coms, to game shows and Comedy Quiz Shows packed with the same coterie of ‘Stand Up Comics and Establishment Politician and journalist Guests, where a ready cheap laugh can always be garnered by quipping about Scots eating deep fried Mars Bars, or the Scottish diet where fruit and salads were ‘Rabbit Food’.
    Oh how they howl in London!
    BBC Jockland was designed to fail; BBC QT continues unabated, and Reporting Scotland continues on its merry way peddling Scotland is Shite, because at Nine over on the satellite channel, Scotland is presented as Not Quite So Shite, but in a Northern Britain Regional sort of way, to the 9000 tuning in.
    A brief scan of BBC I Player sums it up nicely.
    London and the Home Counties is the culture and values broadcast to the nations.
    Cricket, English fitba, and free promos for the Big Events, Crufts, the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race, Kew Gardens, the Chelsea Flower Show…God Bless Old England!
    Imagine Belgium being swamped by German TV and Dead Tree Scroll Hacks banging on about the Fatherland.
    England is a ‘foreign’ land now, with a culture and values ‘foreign’ to us Scots, and Irish, and Welsh.
    The staff at PQ work for an English Management Board, and nothing is allowed to emanate from the Clyde which isn’t approved by England. Fact.
    We are treated as a colony, a subjugated nation, expected to sit listening and watching Big Brother TV, and cheer on cue.
    The Great British is in fact, the Great English, and everybody knows that.

    • JGedd says:

      Even Frankie Boyle seems to have been hobbled. He is only allowed to appear with a group of minders – mainly English, strangely – who sit on the stage with him while he performs. Perhaps their role is to jump on him with sedatives and straitjacket if he is tempted to extemporise with one of his inspired rants that might upset Auntie’s strict rules. It looks as if he has to be carefully guarded. Sad, really.

      • following news of the passing of Billy McNeill, a true Scottish hero and gentleman, I tapped into STV’s and BBC’s Scottish news at teatime.
        Both referred to him several times as the first .’British’ captain to lift the European Cup.
        Not Scottish, but British.
        Like Murray and Hoy after him, he’s ‘British’, because we are all in this Precious Fecking Union with England. England bask in the glow of a Scots’ achievement? 1966 and all that. ‘England’ won the world Cup doncha know?
        11 Scots lads, led by a Scots manager, turned the world of football on its head, but the ProudScotsBut hacks at the Brit Nat Branches in Scotland still peddle the ‘British’ nonsense.
        He was born in Bellshill, I learnt today, the son of a soldier, grandson of a miner.
        But he is denied his nationality by the Powers That Be who run the Propaganda Wings of the Brit Nat Stockades Up Here.
        Rest in peace, sir.
        I am Scots born: I am not ‘British’ in the sense that our colonial Overlords would classify us.
        I am Scottish, and so is Billy McNeill.
        Shame on the lot of you.

  18. The clue is in the word “British” …. BeebScottie is never going to be anything other than British. The only way anything like a Scottish broadcasting service will come into existence is when there is a Scottish Broadcasting Corporation. But of course we are not allowed to make one of these because at the last referendum we chose to be British. More fool us.

  19. Mike Lothian says:

    As someone who tends just to watch things on Netflix, even though I have Sky and Amazon too, I was wondering what channel number it was on Sky.

    The drag queen thing does sound quite fun and probably a breath of fresh air from watching RPDR

  20. JMD says:

    Agree with all, there’s absolutely no doubt that it was set up to fail so they can say there’s no demand for independent Scottish tv, the dumb jock suckers are quite happy just munching their cereal, as britnat Tim Luckhurst has apparently already said tho no doubt not quite in those words.

    One thing I don’t get though, how is bbc2 supposed to be “fringe”.

  21. Why would anyone want an hour of Reporting Scotland from 6pm on BBC1? It would just be an hour of murrrrddddurrrrsss, SNP bad, Scottish NHS bad, Scottish Transport bad, Scottish Education very bad and Scottish government policies bad. Our screens would be even more filled with wee Brian Taylor, interviewing a never ending procession of Brit Nat hacks spouting that Scotland is very, very bad.
    Of course, one of the main reasons that the BBC is so anti Scottish and anti Independence is that they will lose around £330 million per year from Scottish license fees.
    I make a point of not viewing anything on BBC. I see clips of political content online, or tweets about the latest misleading outrage, to keep me up to date. However, I do pay my license fee, as I am not about to break any laws because of these Brit Nat throbbers.
    £5 billion per year. £5000 million per year. That’s the mandatory propaganda tax on the subjects (we are not citizens) of the UK. For that we receive programs, which for me are unwatchable. From badly produced and acted dramas, to politically biased news and debate programs. The BBC employs 20,000 people on top salaries and doles out money, hand over fist, to press hacks and so called “celebrities”. If it was privately owned it would be bankrupt and out of business.
    Best example recently is the new Farage Brexit Party. From nowhere to 27% in a month, if that. Higher than the Tories and Labour. All down to wall to wall coverage on BBC. Now the BBC could have reported negatively on Farage, or downplayed this new party, or even ignored it like they do with SNP good stories. But no, the BBC gave it the full fanfare. It shows that the BBC still has a massive influence on the English population, but its grip is slowly slipping on the Scots.

    • Marlon, on the morning that NS is to make an announcement on Brexit and Indyref 2, the Herald, Scotsman and Record, plus all the ‘Scottish’ versions of the bums and tits rags will flood the columns and airwaves with BadEssEnnPee garbage and Scotland is shite drivel on Health, Education, rail, or Police blunders.
      Brian Taylor, who may explode on camera any day now, reminded us all that we are a militarily occupied colony, which requires an English woman’s ‘permission’ to decide our fate.
      Well done, Toodle OO, get up off your knees man.
      That Dick Leonard the Union clerk minding the Branch Office, will be snapped beside a pensioner on a gurney in a hospital corridor, or Murdo 7 times political failure Fraser who incredibly now celebrates 20 years pocketing a wage as an MSP on the Blue Tory Jobs For the Boys Gravy Train, will bleat about anything that ‘proves’ that Scotland is crap and that Brexit is Brill.
      Like millions Up Here now, I have had enough of this bunch of subservient little collaborators.
      It’s about to go very very wrong.

    • ArtyHetty says:

      Its not ‘against the law’ to ditch the tv tax! If you don’t watch it, don’t pay it. Write and tell them you no longer require a license as you do not watch their biased programmes. You can have 10 tv sets, for watching dvd’s, netflix, whatever. Many people think they have to pay just because they have a tv set, a convenient
      myth.

      You can’t be kocked up for debt in Scotland, unlike in England where they threaten people with prison, and do lock some people up, who do not want to pay for their tv tax.

      Ditch the tv tax.

      • ArtyHetty says:

        Locked up, of course! Oops!

      • Grafter says:

        Well said Hetty. The fear inspired by the BBC infects many who think they may be breaking “the law”. What they should be fearing is for Scotland to lose any chance of independence courtesy of the corrupt and biased BBC. Don’t pay them a penny !

  22. susan says:

    The BBC is a propaganda outfit. I don’t watch tv as I can’t bear the shite it puts out. As for the so-called Scottish channel, it sounds Central Belt centred and therefore of minimal interest to me.

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