BBC Network News Reporting More Scottish Stories, says Study

The BBC has made a “real improvement” in its network news and current affairs coverage of Scotland, the BBC Trust has said.

In a report released today, the broadcaster’s governing body noted the proportion of news items relating to the three UK devolved powers – Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales – had almost doubled in the space of two years, with the largest increase seen in Scotland.

The Trust did, however, warn of a continuing “preponderance” in favour of stories about England in some areas, while clarity over which devolved issues affect which parts of the UK was also said to be lacking.

Says research, published by the Trust and carried out by Cardiff School of Journalism, between 2007 and last year, news items on BBC television related to Scotland rose 3.4 per cent, compared to a 1.2 per cent and 1.8 per cent increase for Northern Ireland and Wales respectively.

Meantime, online coverage of issues 'north of the border' jumped 5.5 per cent, with a 2.4 per cent increase recorded for radio.

Adds the study, which centres on a content analysis of four weeks of network news and current affairs coverage in October and November of last year, location reporting by the BBC from Scotland saw a 2.5 per cent increase for television coupled with a 1.3 per cent drop on radio.

Says Richard Tait, chair of the Trust's Editorial Standards Committee: “The Trust is clear that the BBC should serve all audiences, and licence fee payers themselves tell us they want to know more about what's going on in the nations and regions of the UK.

“As a result of the recommendations we made in 2008, the Trust is pleased that audiences are now seeing more stories about the devolved nations on the BBC – and stories that more accurately reflect the key issues in these areas.”

However, BBC Trustee for Scotland, Jeremy Peat, told The Herald “there are still areas of failings” in spite of improvements in recent years.