Academic who found anti-indy bias in BBC news interviewed by Russian TV


  By a Newsnet reporter
An academic whose research found broadcasters were favouring the No campaign in their coverage of the independence referendum, has been interviewed by a Russian TV channel.
Professor John Robertson, who has carried out two studies into referendum coverage, was invited to appear on RT News UK in order to discuss his academic work.

The University of the West of Scotland academic discovered early evening news on both BBC Scotland and STV had favoured the No campaign by a ratio of 2 to 1.  The study had taken place over the course of a year.

Professor Robertson found a similar pattern when he conducted a month long study into Radio Scotland’s flagship news programme Good Morning Scotland.

That study was commissioned by Newsnet Scotland and found referendum coverage was more likely to lead with a story favouring the No campaign than one favouring Yes.  The study also found a tendency on the part of interviewers to adopt a more aggressive stance with Yes figures than when interviewing their No campaign counterparts.

Professor Robertson recently criticised the Scottish media for refusing to report his findings.

In a recent interview with the Drum magazine, the academic said it was, “worrying that research of this kind is required in a democracy, and it is similarly worrying that this report has been largely ignored by the BBC and mainstream media.”

Professor Robertson added that the failure of any media in Scotland to seriously address the issues raised in the report was a concerning development.

“I fear we have witnessed the collusion of broadsheet, radio and TV journalists in their refusal to criticise each other’s ethical behaviour. Until this point, I naively though Scotland was rather more equipped to expose elite collusions,”

In an ironic twist, Newsnet Scotland has learned that the RT interview took place in the very heart of the BBC in Scotland after the Russian broadcaster booked a studio at Pacific Quay.

Commenting, Professor Robertson said: “I was pleasantly surprised when RT contacted me and asked for an interview, and even more surprised when I learned the interview would take place at the BBC’s Pacific Quay HQ.  I have to say RT were both gracious and fair in their questioning.
“Aside from a short interview on a Saturday morning BBC radio programme and a paragraph in one newspaper, neither of which went into my findings in depth, the Scottish media has failed to show the remotest interest in my research.
“It does not reflect well on Scotland’s media when an academic study which finds our broadcasters are favouring one side in this important referendum, is effectively ignored.”
The academic, who recently spoke at a protest against the BBC’s anti-independence bias, added:

“The BBC in Scotland, and to a lesser extent STV, might do well to reflect that dissenting voices are now relying on Russian broadcast media in order to be heard.”

It is not yet known when the fifteen minute interview will be broadcast.