Scotsman Warns Against Hasty Overhaul in Wake of BBC Bias Claims

Claims of a continued bias towards English stories in BBC UK-wide network news should not prompt a ‘broadcasting apartheid’ in coverage of the devolved nations, insists a leader comment in today's Scotsman newspaper.

An editorial in today’s Scotsman concedes failure to properly air matters of Scottish concern is 'irritating’ yet warns against a hasty overhaul.

The comments came after the Corporation’s independent advisory body, Audience Council Scotland (ACS), yesterday raised concerns over the balance being brokered by the BBC in coverage of Scottish and English only-issues.

Says the Edinburgh-based title: “It does often seem that the BBC is an extension of Stephen Fry by many means. And its focus on purely English concerns can be grating and wearisome.

“But some points can be fairly made in mitigation. The UK is not made up of separate tribes with no commonality of experience.

“International affairs are very well covered by BBC correspondents. The attention to Westminster politics is comprehensive, almost to a fault.

“But it is irritating when it is not made sufficiently clear that health and education matters are devolved in Scotland, though of course it should be recognised that the BBC has an obligation to some 50 million who are not Scots.

“That obligation extends to a coverage of Scottish affairs on a UK basis.”

The broadcaster’s annual report yesterday revealed a huge boost in the number of hours produced in Scotland for the BBC's national, UK-wide network channels.

However, a separate review carried out by ACS drew attention to a deficit in Scottish news being broadcast UK-wide, with BBC Radio 4 cited as a case where a 'world-view rooted in the south of England’ is employed.

Adds today’s Scotsman's editorial: “It would be a loss to Scotland – and the UK as a whole – were the ACS’s critique to lead to a broadcasting apartheid, or an attempt to address the need for a broader Radio Four as an excuse for more ‘dumbing down’ – a process already far advanced.

“What is needed is more sensitive programming that has regard to the distinct interests and requirements across the UK and guards against stereotyping.”