In My Opinion: Bob Cuddihy: If a Scottish Six, then why not a Scottish Ten?

WHEN you live part of the year in the mountains of Andalusia, near the town of Ronda, and are a news junkie, you thank goodness for the facility to watch BBC Scotland’s ‘Reporting Scotland’ and all the other news channels and programmes via satellite television, along with the wi-fi at the El Stop bar here in our village of Benajoan.

So there we were, myself and the missus, here in the small Spanish village that we call home when we are not living in Edinburgh, contemplating whether to stroll down to the local bar or wait to catch Jackie Bird and Reporting Scotland.

Just as well we chose to wait. Jackie brought us up short by announcing the ‘wings had fallen off’ Fly Globespan.

Fly Globespan: the airline we use all the time. Fly Globespan, the airline due to arrive in four days’ time with a friend from Edinburgh. Fly Globespan, the airline due to return us to Edinburgh and then take us back to Spain for another break next year.

The airline was grounded and we were stuck, not that the prospect of remaining was an altogether unpleasant one. Apart from our cats languishing in the cattery and the prospects of missing a great New Year gathering, remaining in Benajoan was perfectly ‘doable’.

Down at El Stop, the story became clear. Globespan no more. Thousands of passengers stranded, tens of thousands to lose out on tickets and holidays already purchased and 800 employees thrown on the scrapheap with untold consequences for the Scottish airline industry.

That should have been that until we switched on the BBC Ten o’clock News where the lead was the British Airways strike which I thought would have provided a very simple link to Fly Globespan, except that it didn’t.

Only BBC Scotland carried the story. BBC London didn’t. The channel to which we turn at the darkest hour had, with the exception of the Peter Tobin horror story, nothing that looked to ‘the regions’ – or ‘where you are’, as they so condescendingly observe.

Out in Spain, it made me realise that not only is there a need for a Scottish Six [Scottish, UK and international news reported at Six o’clock from Scotland] but a need too for a Scottish Ten.

A few days on, and, still, for me, it is the only logical conclusion, because, in the news game, you cannot be a little bit in or a bit out. You can either get wet or forget about the swim.

The BBC, we have constantly been reassured, has embarked on a continuing course of making the London news and current affairs departments aware of the sensitivities and new parameters resulting post-devolution.

Well, halleluiah to that, brothers and sisters, but it is not just a simple nod to the fact Westminster-based ministers of health, education, etc have no legislative authority in Scotland, rather it is a question of the entire news agenda not just the elements those in London believe are necessary to keep those noisy Jocks quiet.

I cannot believe any television or radio practitioner who watched BBC News not running the Fly Globespan story the other evening still harbouring doubts about the need for a Scottish Six, and so therefore, too, a Ten.

It seems to me we must stop monkeying about and tell London it is time for Scotland to set its own news agenda and demand the resources required.

Bob Cuddihy is a former reporter at Scottish Television. He now works, freelance, in PR and public affairs.

PS For us, the good news is our friend has managed to book with another airline and – thanks to Avril! – we have tickets that will get us back to Scotland.