Pacific Quay-stone Kops need to change


by G.A.Ponsonby

The Scottish election is barely three weeks old and already the bungling broadcaster of Brigadoon, aka BBC Scotland, is living down to expectations with its coverage of Scottish politics.

Yep, those denizens of Pacific Quay who for years have provided a non-stop diet of fitba and murder have now set the bar even lower as Scotland awakens from a 300-year slumber.

The 69-seat victory achieved by the SNP on 5th May may have sent ripples around the globe as demonstrated by the world press attending the First Minister’s press conference in London when Mr Salmond was there in order to press Ministers from the UK coalition for more powers for the Scottish parliament.

However, it was business as usual over at Pathetic Quay on Monday when the meter ran out just as Reporting Scotland finally got around to covering Alex Salmond’s crucial visit.

The words of Scotland’s First Minister may have been transmitted and reported around the world by foreign media, but they failed to make it into the living rooms of Scotland at prime time when BBC Scotland’s very own Quay-stone Kops couldn’t operate the video recorder.

Technical difficulties, the scourge of the Nationalists, struck again and left the piece in tatters.  It was the second such incident in less than a week; days ago John Swinney was prevented from being heard on Newsnight Scotland when a similar technical hitch appeared.  So, twice in less than a week the BBC had contrived to prevent Scottish viewers from hearing members of their democratically elected government speaking on matters of national importance.

The technical difficulties had been resolved by Monday evening allowing Newsnight Scotland to provide what appeared to be a token gesture with a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ item on the First Minister’s visit.

Bad as this was it was at least better that the 15 or so seconds Reporting Scotland allotted to the First Minister’s meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg the following day. An item on Rangers football club boardroom changes was given higher priority, more time and some in-depth analysis.

Missing from BBC Scotland yesterday was the news that earlier that day the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee had backed calls for corporation tax powers to be devolved to the province.  The decision has implications for Scotland given the Scottish government’s calls for the same powers to be devolved to Holyrood, but somehow the state broadcaster managed to overlook it.

Whether through technical ineptitude or a sinister desire to suppress the voice of Scottish government spokespeople, the blunders and omissions surely reinforce the argument for a more equitable slice of the licence fee to be spent in Scotland and for broadcasting to be brought under the control of the Scottish parliament. Note, the parliament and not as some mischievous BBC Scotland reporters have been suggesting, the SNP.

Forced to conform to a London-designed template, the broadcaster’s Scottish arm is unable to cover the ‘great debate’ that is currently taking place in Scotland.  This restrictive remit means that they are often forced to over dramatise and sensationalise those areas they are allowed to cover.  Witness their devouring of the wind and volcanic ash stories and any and all trivial spats involving the Old Firm.

But we would be naive to think that London control is the sole reason for the vacuity that is emerging at the heart of the BBC in Scotland; it is not unreasonable to believe that there are figures at the heart of Pacific Quay only too happy to see Scotland’s great debate marginalised and for crime and football to form the core of BBC Scotland’s news output.  Indeed the broadcaster invests considerable time and money ensuring that the radio airwaves are saturated with matters football to the extent that football debate and discussion appears pretty much every night at prime time.

Visitors to this site will know only too well how we cut our journalistic teeth by highlighting the questionable practices adopted by several high-profile BBC Scotland figures. We have exposed links to the Labour party, manipulation of news, news blackouts, misrepresentation and quite blatant xenophobia all masquerading as balanced news and debate.

In our opinion the case for change at BBC Scotland has been made, several times over.  That there are some very real issues relating to news and current affairs is plain for all to see.

On the rare occasion BBC Scotland does debate and discuss Scottish politics it is still falling into the bad habit of loading studio discussion panels with commentators who are sympathetic to the Union and have past links to Labour.

Scotland has moved on but the BBC seems unable to comprehend what has happened.  The SNP has been given one of the strongest mandates ever by a Scottish electorate and are now quite properly pursuing their mandate for constitutional change.  If BBC Scotland continues to behave as the broadcasting puppet of Westminster, calling London for permission and guidance then they run the risk of being accused of operating an anti-Scottish agenda.

The real Keystone Kops were blundering idiots masquerading as policemen for laughs.  Nobody is laughing at BBC Scotland as it masquerades as a serious national broadcaster.