Breaking News…BBC threatens academic


  By Derek Bateman
Fascinating to see the BBC’s priorities revealed so nakedly tonight when Pacific Quay management contacted the University of the West of Scotland to object to the UWS Bias in Broadcasting report which, as far as I can see, they didn’t have the courage to broadcast.
Instead of doing what any self-confident public service broadcaster should do and produce a news item out of a critical report from one of our own universities, they seem to have hidden it from the licence-fee paying public who bankroll them and then mounted a sabotage operation against the author.

I understand they are demanding to see the raw data such is their fury at being found out misleading viewers.  But even without seeing it, they themselves are reaching conclusions saying they doubt the “factual accuracy of a significant number of the contentions contained within the report and with the language used in the report itself.”

In a letter from Ian Small, the head of public policy, which came to me via a third party source, they say: “many of the conclusions you draw are, on the evidence you provide, unsubstantiated and/or of questionable legitimacy.”  You may detect the irony of this statement given what the report revealed about the BBC’s reporting and presentation of referendum news.

There is little doubt that John Robertson’s illuminating report has found out the questionable management of news at Pacific Quay when Small says the report is “highly subjective and questionable analysis of our news output.”  Those are, in my view, spiteful and insulting accusations against a Scottish academic for which Small has no evidence whatsoever.  Are you getting the impression of an arrogant, out-of-touch, superior organization resentful of criticism and unable to defend itself without resorting to personal vilification?

So offended is this superannuated administrator that he demands to see the data so the BBC can make its own assessment.  Who qualified this pen-pusher to assess any academic’s information?  Can we be allowed to see the budget information on which BBC Scotland bases decisions to sack so many experienced staff?  I don’t think so.  Perhaps John Boothman will be asked to assess it instead.

And guess what gives the BBC’s game away…their email has a c.c. to Craig Mahoney, the university principal…a classic piece of low cunning to intimidate an academic by referring it to his boss.

I think we need to rally and support this individual who has a track record in exposing media manipulation.  It is clear in this case he has struck a nerve at Pacific Quay where there are continual concerns at the running of the news operation which have now reached London but which simply don’t move Kenny McQuarrie whose job it is to guarantee an impartial and accurate news service without which there will be no BBC Scotland.

It is the basis of the whole organization.  He is oblivious to the queue of experienced journalistic staff leaving and to the threatening attitude that is now the hallmark of a once liberal and free-wheeling organization.  No doubt when this report was brought to his attention he would express the kind of furious demand for a response that he should be using to energise the news department.

I am sending the details I have to my MSP and to the convenor of the Culture Committee at Holyrood – – as I think it’s time they began another series of investigations into BBC Scotland.  Remember, Kenny McQuarrie refused to go before them the last time until given a kick in the pants by the chairman of the Trust.  Such respect for the parliament.

I am also writing to the university principal in support of his university and of Dr Robertson who should not be subject to bullying by public officials unable to do their job properly.  I urge you to do the same.

We have proof this week with the UWS report that the BBC is failing the Scots – yet again – remember less than half of Scots, 48%, believe the corporation is good at representing their lives through news and current affairs, the lowest proportion of any of the countries in the UK.

It strikes me as the height of hypocrisy for the BBC to try to badger an independent organization because it can’t stand it revealing the truth – that it is failing in its primary duty to the Scots…and they didn’t even report it.  Therefore let’s also tell Mr Small what we think of his efforts –  After all the BBC is always saying it wants to hear from you….

Courtesy of Derek Bateman