By G.A.Ponsonby
BBC Scotland coverage of the referendum is to be monitored for four weeks, Newsnet Scotland can confirm.
In what is believed to be a first, a crowdfunding appeal has successfully raised funds to allow an academic study to take place into referendum news output from the broadcaster.

The appeal, which sought to raise £6,500 over eight days, reached its total after only two days.  The study which will begin in April, will monitor referendum related news coverage from one of five BBC Scotland news outlets.

The five include:

  • Good Morning Scotland
  • Newsdrive
  • Morning Call
  • Newsnight Scotland
  • BBC Scotland news online

Commenting, a Newsnet Scotland spokesperson said:

"From the moment the SNP won its landslide election victory in 2011 BBC Scotland should have put plans in place to ensure the highest standards of impartiality in its news coverage.

"Instead we have been subjected to appalling imbalances and news management which culminated in the broadcaster’s own watchdog finding BBC Scotland guilty of breaking its own guidelines."

The guilty verdict followed a year-long pursuit of BBC Scotland following an item broadcast on Reporting Scotland.  The reporter responsible for what the BBC Trust described as a "misleading" broadcast resigned from the corporation days before the investigation was confirmed.

The broadcaster has faced a string of complaints over its presentation of Scottish politics and the behaviour of several of its presenters.

  • Shortly after the SNP's 2007 election win, BBC Scotland presenter Glenn Campbell ripped up the party's manifesto whilst presenting a live item on Reporting Scotland.
  • The broadcaster's business and economy editor Douglas Fraser once compared the SNP to a North Korean dictatorship.
  • Radio presenter Gary Robertson's hectoring of SNP guests during interviews, in contrast to a far gentler approach with Labour politicians, led to scores of complaints from licence payers.

Former BBC reporter Derek Bateman has also revealed attempts were made to influence the political content of his radio programme by Head of news at BBC Scotland, John Boothman.

The Newsnet Scotland spokesperson added: "We aren't about to pre-judge this research.  Indeed a recent study by an academic found that BBC Scotland TV news output had improved in February.

"However we would hope that BBC Scotland management do not react in the same way as they did when a recent year-long study was published, by attacking the credibility of the academic."

The results of the research will be made available to management at BBC Scotland on completion of the study.  They will be invited to critique the findings and conclusions and also offer a response.

Newsnet Scotland will carry a full report on the findings together with a report from the academic in charge of the study.


# Alathia 2014-04-01 06:52
Monitored? That will be Glen Campbell gagged then...
# Blanco 2014-04-01 07:12
If you let the BBC know the timings in advance, they can get their pro-Yes stories (to prove they aren't biased) in for that month. Start it at a crucial time for the campaign and put the BBC's observational bias (if they even care about this survey) to good use :)
# mealer 2014-04-01 07:13
Great work NNS.The closer we can get to fair BBC coverage,the better will be our chances of a YES vote.
# pomatiaH1 2014-04-01 08:54
it would useful if the various reports from Newsnet on the BBC were together in a downloadable form to be printed. I'd pay if that was required
Will Newsnet be presenting the reports to the BBC Trust or international forums? EU or other?
# DonaldMhor 2014-04-01 08:55
Not forgetting Campbells week long tour of the USA post Megrahi to find evidence of anti Scottish sentiment and when he found non he fabricated it. At the same time we saw the appearance of the "Boycott Scotland" web site, which I think came from McMillan and co of CBI fame,who was busy touting his Boycott Scotland message to The Washington Post and any other sympathetic organ. That these people are so keen to stab Scotland in the back tells us all we need to know about them.
# Willow 2014-04-01 09:04
The No campaign is in crises, it is ineffective and their dirty tactics are not working.

The biggest threat to a Yes win is the BBC.

Where would No be without the BBC, or more to the point where would the Yes Scotland be without the BBC?

I am more than happy to help fund as many studies as Newsnet Scotland offer.
# BRL 2014-04-01 09:11
This is a much needed initiative NNS, but why just the one 4 week phase of monitoring - doesn't this need to be done over the complete referendum build-up period?
# Tom767 2014-04-01 09:53
Good idea bit you should have been monitoring Morning Call this morning even worse than it usual amateur standard.
# gus1940 2014-04-01 11:49
The point missed on Morning Call was yes he wasn't telling the staff how to vote on 18/9 but he certainly made it very clear how he wanted them to vote and employees are conditioned to heed the views of employers - it's in their interests after all to do so - just look at the staff at BBC Scotland.
# Independista 2014-04-01 09:54
Excellent. A victory for people power.
There is no place to hide for the biased BBC.
# RTP 2014-04-01 10:21
I agree with the above comments do not let BBC know when you are going to monitor them.I well remember Campbell when he ripped the manifesto up he should have been sacked then.
# goldenayr 2014-04-01 10:42
A note of warning.
Just listening to Susan Calman on The Fred MacAulay show on radio Scotland.Will there be any monitoring of entertainment progs?
They get far higher viewer/listener figures.
# proudscot 2014-04-01 15:44
Quoting goldenayr:
A note of warning.
Just listening to Susan Calman on The Fred MacAulay show on radio Scotland.Will there be any monitoring of entertainment progs?
They get far higher viewer/listener figures.

I switch off ANY programme when Calman is involved. I have done this ever since she denigrated Scottish independence and its supporters (like me) to a sniggering appreciative English audience, then falsely claimed she had had death threats posted on her Facebook site.
# X_Sticks 2014-04-01 10:49
I think this is a good move. Anything that might help keep the management at PQ honest. If that is at all possible, given the disdain that they view their customers with.

I would like to see the labour party cabal in PQ cleared out. May have to wait until after Yes wins the day though.
# Flower of Scotland 2014-04-01 12:02
This is a really good use of the monies raised for this study. Amazing it only took 2 days to raise the sum needed!

The good thing about this study is that the Beeb won't know which programme you are monitoring, so hopefully they will upgrade the content of all the programmes!
# Jimsie 2014-04-01 14:52
Just what is it about Islay? Something in the water? George Robertson, Alistair Carmichael and Glenn Campbell.Oh dear!

I have never been on Islay but have met people from there and they seemed so normal.
# Louperdowg 2014-04-01 17:41
If I have been banned can you at least have the decency to let me know why?

# alanski 2014-04-01 17:42
Excellent news, well done NNS!
# bringiton 2014-04-01 18:15
This should allow the BBC in Scotland around a month's practice before the official referendum monitoring kicks in.
Will be good training having to be neutral and objective for a change and will stand them in good stead following independence.
# goldenayr 2014-04-01 21:37
Just watched News at Ten on the beeb.
Why are they not included?The attack on English NHS affects us as well.
# chicmac 2014-04-01 22:59
Is the plan to pick, say 4 separate random weeks over the next few months? That would really keep them guessing.

Also, hope the academic will pick another section outside the report remit to act as a check against a leak.
# Breeks 2014-04-02 03:48
This will be money well spent, but how sad a reflection it is on the level of debate that it has come to this.
But on the up side, I am glad that people have finally tired of expecting the BBC to clean up its act, and are now taking appropriate measures to formally document the misrepresentati on. We have respected the BBC and BBC Trust to act as arbiter much too long, and Professor Robertson's study clearly struck a rare nerve.

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