Call made for greater autonomy to be given to BBC Scotland, in wake of Newsnight debacle

A CALL has been made for the BBC to be restructured along federal lines, providing BBC Scotland with much more autonomy while not breaking up the Corporation as has been recently proposed by First Minister, Alex Salmond.

It was made yesterday by Robert Beveridge – a Professor at the University of Sassari, in Sardinia, Italy, and a tutor at the Scottish Media Academy – as the BBC Scotland director, Ken MacQuarrie was issuing a damning critique on the handling of a story about child abuse by the London arm of the Newsnight current affairs programme.

Says MacQuarrie, in a report that dominates today’s newspapers, including as the front page splash in The Herald, the programme had failed to complete “basic journalistic checks”.

The story – which mistakenly implicated a Tory peer in the abuse of young people in North Wales – was soon followed by the stepping down, at the weekend, of the recently-installed director-general of the BBC, George Entwistle.

And last night, Newsnight Scotland began with presenter, David Henderson, saying: “We have no editorial connection with the London edition of Newsnight.” He then added: “BBC Scotland is proudly uninvolved in the recent accusations about journalistic failures [at Newsnight in London]. But there is a consensus that the whole BBC is about to face serious structural changes.”

Said Beveridge: “Within the BBC, decision-making needs to be devolved. What this means, in my view, is that we need ‘devo-max’ within the BBC. We need a federal BBC. BBC Scotland should have control of all the licence fee money which is raised in Scotland and also full control over the schedules and the programmes so it can choose when to opt in to UK BBC programming rather than opt out.”

In August, Alex Salmond outlined his vision for a national broadcaster in an independent Scotland, which would mean a break-up of the BBC.

This Friday: Robert Beveridge outlines his thoughts on a federal BBC, on allmediascotland.