Question Time descends into one sided shambles as BBC referendum coverage faces scrutiny


  By a Newsnet reporter
The BBC’s handling of the independence referendum is facing being put under the microscope following complaints regarding the broadcaster’s coverage.
Following the broadcast of last night’s edition of Question Time, which saw Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon outnumbered by anti-independence panellists, it has emerged that the BBC’s own Newswatch programme is considering looking at how the corporation is handling the referendum debate.

Newsnet Scotland understands that emails have been sent out by Newswatch producer James Mallet to people who have complained about perceived bias in the BBC’s reporting of the referendum, asking if they wished to appear on camera.

The revelation will be seen as an indication that BBC Chiefs are taking seriously claims by many licence payers in Scotland that the referendum debate is not being presented in a fair and balanced manner.

It follows claims yesterday by BBC Scotland presenter Mhairi Stuart that an independent Scotland would have its EU membership blocked by Madrid, something that has already been denied by senior Spanish officials.

Anguish has been repeatedly expressed by many licence fee payers in Scotland over the BBC’s repeated habit of allowing pro-Unionist guests to dominate debates on the referendum.

Last night’s Question Time, broadcast from Easterhouse in Glasgow, exemplified the problems that some insist are an ever growing threat to a fair and balanced debate on independence, when only one pro-independence panellist was invited onto the panel alongside three, and arguably four, pro-Unionists.

The audience was similarly profiled with a very clear vocal majority favouring Unionism against a smaller, but equally vocal minority, in favour of independence.  The result led to Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon coming under constant attack from pro-Union panellists and audience members alike as reasoned debate was rendered impossible.

[Newsnet comment – Last night’s Question Time was embarrassingly, and quite blatantly, one sided and follows on from a similarly one sided radio phone in programme [Call Kaye] from Monday that Newsnet Scotland has already highlighted and analysed.

The BBC is letting the Scottish licence payer down by allowing debates on the constitution to be dominated by Unionist leaning commentators.  The very clear loading of the panel was mirrored by an equally one sided loading of the audience – whether the latter was intentional is moot.

The BBC is at a watershed moment, with revelations over Jimmy Savile beginning to eat away at its very heart.  Question Time, produced at Pacific Quay in Glasgow, succumbed to the BBC Scotland malaise last night and disgraced the corporation’s once proud heritage.  Something has to be done, and soon, to rescue the most important debate in Scotland’s history, from a corporation intent in sowing seeds of division by allowing a pro-Union agenda to infect OUR debate.]