BBC News should find space for more Scottish stories, says Peat

THE BBC should provide more space for Scottish stories in its TV news reporting, according to one of its recent governing body members.

Writes Jeremy Peat in today’s Scotsman: “When watching the BBC news at 6pm and 10pm I still find myself concerned that too high a percentage of time in the UK element of the bulletin is spent on England-only stories about health, education or whatever. The emphasis is absolutely correct for 85 per cent of the UK viewing public, and BBC newsmakers are increasingly looking for comparisons with policy in the other nations. But the nagging concern remains – especially when the time available for news stories across the regions of Scotland is severely constrained.”

Until just over a year ago, Peat was the BBC national trustee for Scotland. His near double-page article is supported by a news story on page three of the paper.

He adds: “I am suggesting consideration of news programmes at 6pm and/or 10pm which works through a Scottish ‘lens’ – with emphasis and content suited to a primarily Scottish audience, but taking material readily available, now that the technology at [BBC Scotland’s HQ at] Pacific Quay in Glasgow permits ease of access.”

His column praises BBC ALBA becoming available on Freeview.

He recognises too that the BBC is improving the accuracy of its reports on UK-wide bulletins from the devolved nations. He writes: “Progress continues to enhance the accuracy of reporting and also to make more cross-references to policies in different nations. I am aware of this while listening to Radio 4, as well as watching BBC TV news, and also suspect there are now more stores from the devolved nations on the national radio and TV news. But the BBC should certainly not become complacent on this. Fortunately, those running the news ship in London do ‘get it’ with regard to devolution, so the outlook is encouraging.”

He stops short of calling for the fabled ‘Scottish Six’, continuing: “Please note, this proposition does not involve BBC Scotland reporters around the world and across the UK reporting for a special Scottish programme.”

He later adds: “Indeed, Radio Scotland news bulletins appear to me often to have more international content than their Radio 4 equivalents.”

His article, generally supportive of the BBC, is headed: ‘BBC on a learning curve’.

The Scotsman’s leader column criticises a BBC Scotland decision to dispense with two of its radio news and current programmes: Scotland at Ten and Newsweek.