By a Newsnet reporter
A petition calling for international monitoring of media coverage of the Scottish independence referendum has attracted almost 4000 signatures.
Launched in July this year by Colin MacKenzie, the petition calls on the Organisation for Security & Co-operation in Europe [OSCE] to monitor the referendum, including reporting by broadcast and print media.
The petition states:
“Many Scots are worried about the Mainstream Media (MSM) handling of coverage of the Scottish Independence Referendum and ask that The Scottish Government approach the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and request that the subordinate Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) deploy immediately an election monitoring mission to cover the Referendum including the debate across radio, television and print media.
“The SNP government and the Yes Scotland campaign have been subjected to continuous misrepresentation, by BBC Scotland and across all print MSM.
“Bias is clear, by omission & commission, to such an extent that the Foreign Ministers of Eire and Luxembourg have both been forced to clarify comments on Scottish Independence which were, it seems, deliberately reported out of context.”
The petition has already received well wishes from the OSCE spokeswoman Cathie Burton who tweeted a good luck message.
Explaining why he set up the petition, Mr MacKenzie credited former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, who had called for a similar intervention from the OSCE.
“I set this up in the face of ever increasing hostility from the Better Together camp ably assisted by a compliant Mainstream Media.
“I think we all expect Political Campaigns to ‘spin’ their side of an argument but when that strays into obfuscation and outright lying we need to take note.” Mr MacKenzie told Newsnet Scotland.
Mr MacKenzie suggested that newspaper circulation in Scotland was not being helped by what he suggested was poor quality output. However his main criticism was reserved for the BBC.
“The BBC, however, is funded, under threat of criminal conviction, by us all via the Licence fee and has been one of the worst offenders. Their output on Scottish Independence can only be described as British State Propaganda, often by omission or partial reporting. The absence of information is often more difficult to counter than a broadcast lie.”
Mr MacKenzie urged people who had concerns to sign his petition and added: “If this achieves nothing more than awareness of the issues I’ll be happy but I hope a friendly MSP will take up the cause and sponsor the need for external monitoring.”
BBC Scotland has faced several accusations of partisan reporting in relation to the independence referendum.
The BBC Trust recently announced its intention to investigate claims that the broadcaster deliberately misled viewers over its selective reporting of the views of Irish European Minister Lucinda Creighton on the EU status of an independent Scotland. Ms Creighton complained of having been “misconstrued” and that her words had been “manipulated” after she gave an interview to BBC Scotland reporter Raymond Buchanan.
Weeks later another European official accused BBC Scotland of misrepresenting his views on the same subject.
Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn complained that his comments on an independent Scotland had not been reported accurately after BBC Scotland reporter Glenn Campbell claimed Luxembourg was the first country outside the UK to express a view on Scottish independence.
Describing a statement issued by the country’s Foreign Minister as devoid of “diplomatic restraint”, the BBC Scotland reporter claimed that, “Luxembourg has warned against Scotland becoming an independent country”
Days later, Mr Asselborn’s office issued a statement which read: “The BBC chose to present the position of the minister in opposition [to independence]. Whereas it was more nuanced than that,” he said, adding: “It’s a reflection which is valid for all member states, not to go their separate ways.”
Mr Asselborn had backed the Scottish government’s interpretation of his words as being critical of the UK government’s anti_EU stance, adding: “…there was no misunderstanding on the part of Scotland’s parliament, which interpreted the minister’s comment as directed at the UK’s anti-Europe stance.”
A subsequent letter issued by the Luxembourg Embassy in London accused the BBC of having “failed” in its reporting of the story.