BBC must do more for Scotland after audience council report critical


The SNP has stepped up calls for the devolution of broadcasting and a digital network for Scotland after the BBC’s Audience Council for Scotland (ACS) reported continued failings by the BBC to adequately represent Scottish issues or Scottish perspectives on national and international coverage.

The report criticises Radio 4 for presenting the news through “a worldview rooted in the south of England”, and states that there is an appetite for more Scottish news in national (UK) coverage.

The ACS report also raises concerns that the transition to HD is cutting access to Scottish programming.

Commenting SNP Culture spokesman Pete Wishart MP said:

“The devolution of broadcasting powers and the establishment of a Scottish Digital Network offer a great opportunity for Scots viewers to receive the coverage, programming and perspective on the world this report shows they desire.

“Scottish audiences should not have to get all their national news read through a London based agenda.”

The SNP spokesperson acknowledged that there had been a recent increase in coverage but argued that this was due to constant pressure on the London based organisation.  Mr Wishart claimed that the BBC was not doing enough and that Scots were feeling increasingly disenfranchised and highlighted the lack of Scottish election coverage as an example.

He added:

“The BBC’s failure to provide Scottish services on HD, including Scottish news, shows how little thought the BBC in London has given to the nations it should represent.  Even during the recent elections anyone watching on HD in Scotland would not have seen any Scottish coverage.

“Devolving broadcasting would put more pressure on the BBC to meet Scottish needs and a Scottish Digital Network would finally allow Scottish audiences to receive the programming and perspective they clearly want.”

The Audience Council report includes:

1. On Radio 4 the council had: “some concern that the station did not have a genuine pan-UK perspective, but had a worldview rooted in the south of England.”

2. On High Definition “The Council highlighted concerns that the absence of opt-out programming on BBC One HD could adversely affect the delivery of the public purposes in Scotland: if uptake was fast, and viewers adopted BBC One HD as their channel of choice, the reach of opt-out content, in particular Reporting Scotland and other programmes which deliver key public purposes for mainstream audiences in Scotland, could be eroded.”

3. Overall there was “a strong audience appetite for fuller representation of Scotland on the BBC, and in particular in coverage of news and current affairs. Members believe a better balance could be struck between Scottish news and news on English devolved affairs, and that this would better reflect audience needs in Scotland.”