BBC Scotland presenter may have breached BBC’s own guidelines


by a Newsnet reporter

A BBC Scotland radio presenter is facing claims he breached the corporation’s guidelines on advertising after appearing in an STV advert for the Glasgow Science Centre.
Colin Kelly, who fronts an early morning news show on Radio Scotland, appeared in an advertisement for the Science Centre which is being shown on STV this week.  The presenter is also facing questions after a news item calling for an inquiry into structural problems at the centre was missing from his show.

The centre has been beset with problems relating to the rotating tower mechanism and was closed for repair work last August,  the company running the Science Centre now believes that the attraction will be closed at least until August next year.  More than £9m of public money was invested in the 127 metre tall Rotating Tower at the Centre on the banks of the Clyde opposite Pacific Quay, headquarters of BBC Scotland.

Yesterday the BBC reported that Sandra White, the SNP MSP for Glasgow Kelvin, is to write to Alex Neil, Minister for Infrastructure, John Swinney, Finance Minister, and Gordon Matheson, the leader of Glasgow City Council, in order to press for an official inquiry into the many problems which have dogged the structure.  The story was covered by STV and the Daily Record, and featured prominently on the BBC.  For much of the day it was one of the BBC’s main Scottish stories.

However  there was a complete absence of any mention of the story on Colin Kelly’s Morning Briefing programme, which airs between 5.30-6am on Radio Scotland and gives a round-up of the day’s news, sport, travel, business, weather as well as reporting what is in the papers.  The Morning Briefing bills itself as “everything you need to know for the day”.

The story was featured as one of the main stories on that day’s Good Morning Scotland programme, which a continuity announcer helpfully plugged at the very end of Morning Briefing, but from Mr Kelly himself, not a word. 

This has led to questions of whether Mr Kelly’s reluctance might have any connection with his own role as a spokesman for the Science Centre and his appearance in the STV commercial.

A source close to the BBC has told Newsnet Scotland that management knew nothing of Kelly’s advert until after it had aired.

The BBC’s own guidelines state: “There are fundamental risks to the editorial integrity of a programme if a presenter’s promotional activities could distort its agenda by forcing the omission of items or changing what it covers.”

This rule applies to all the BBC’s TV and Radio presenters, but for presenters of news, business and current affairs programmes an even stricter restriction is in place.  Part 15.4.34 of the guidelines states: “Presenters and reporters on news, current affairs and business programmes are not permitted to take part in any promotions, endorsements or advertisements for third parties.”

This is not the first time Colin Kelly has courted controversy.  Last year the Scottish edition of the Sun reported that he had been sacked from his job at Radio Clyde over accusations of “cyber bullying”.