Friday, June 08, 2007

BBC Scottish News

Following on from yesterday's 'news' story is the news that Peter Wishart, the SNP MSP, has written to the BBC's director general, Mark Thompson, calling for a "Scottish Six" service. For those from far away, and nearer too, this is for BBC Scotland to stop showing the 6 o'clock news that is broadcast from London and replace it with a programme broadcast from Glasgow that focuses the news on Scottish interests.

Peter Wishart's argument is that the "new political culture" of an SNP-led minority government was not being properly reflected in the main London-based news bulletins. Scottish viewers are repeatedly being short-changed and increasingly misled in the news coverage of Scotland. We need a news service that properly reflects our national news agenda and addresses our news priorities. What we currently get is a misleading output that does nothing other than confuse the Scottish viewer when it comes to the coverage of domestic political news stories." Mr Wishart said the Scottish viewer is receiving "irrelevant stories", with no effort to distinguish between the Scottish government and Westminster.

BBC Scotland decided in December, 2003, to drop the idea, following a series of public meetings and a poll. The BBC has said that they would respond in due course.

Several things occur to me. I might be happy to see a Scottish Six, if and it's a big if they upgrade the quality of their journalism. Currently it is all rather parochial and down home. The current 6.30 Scottish news is very trivial and often too jokey from the presenters. However, I think the solution would be to first upgrade the quality of the 6.30 Scottish news; make it less football oriented and more news driven than it is currently. Of course English only news stories can be irrelevant in the six o'clock news but they are honestly few and far between and all the time we have Scottish MPs voting on all issues in the Westminster parliament it's important to keep things in perspective.

Of course underlying everything is the SNPs march towards independence. Anything and everything they can do to distance Scotland from London helps their case. For me isolationism isn't the answer.


Anonymous said...

"English only news stories ... are honestly few and far between"

Seems contrary to reality. Apparently English-only news must be relegated to the English regional news programmes. That's an incredibly naive belief. No NHS coverage in the 6-o'clock news? Yeah right.

As for the point that Scottish MPs vote on English matters, and therefore Scots should watch a news bulletin from an English perspective: that's a laughable 'argument'.

Richard Havers said...

I'm not sure of what your point is Anon. When I say 'English only’ news stories being far and far between it's those stories currently on the 6 o'clock news from London that are only of interest to people in England. Even a story of a tragedy or whatever in England can still be of interest to viewers in Scotland. I'm responding to the MSPs view that English only stories confuse the viewer.

The point is that because the Six O'clock news is for all of the UK it will naturally have a bias to the majority of viewers. The fact is the Scottish MPs vote in Westminster, not Holyrood, about issues that affect England only so it's natural that the coverage should be from an English perspective - health stories for England for example.