By Fay Sinclair
After many months of deliberation I have finally withdrawn my payment of the TV licence. It is not something I did on a whim – fear of being on the wrong side of the law and the threat of up to £1000 fine kept me in line for a long time – but as the examples of partisan and often outright anti-Scottish reporting continued thick and fast I felt I simply couldn't continue to contribute to the biased propaganda machine the BBC has become.
I wrote to the BBC today to inform them of my decision, reached on the basis that the BBC is failing to fulfil its charter on several points.
The BBC is supposed to promote its stated public purposes, which include: “sustaining citizenship and civil society; promoting education and learning; stimulating creativity and cultural excellence; representing the UK, its nations, regions and communities; bringing the UK to the world and the world to the UK”. Yet I do not believe the BBC is meeting these basic requirements. In fact, in some instances, I believe the BBC is opposing the very principles it was set up to promote.
A recent example of the BBC failing to “sustain citizenship and civil society” as well as failing to “represent the UK, its nations, regions and communities” is in its reporting of the Scottish Government's continued commitment to providing students with free education. The BBC reported this online under the headline “English, Welsh and N Irish students 'face Scots degree fee rise' in what appeared to be a deliberate attempt to stoke up cross-border resentment.
Another such example is the coverage of a reported lack of flu vaccines in England. The initial story published on BBC online mentioned that Scotland had “plenty” of available vaccines and a spokesman for the Scottish Government stated it would “always consider helping England in any way appropriate, should a request be made”.
Over the course of the day the article was edited until the original headline of “Scots not asked by English for spare flu jabs” had changed to “English health officials hit back in flu jabs row” with reference made to how no formal approach had been made and citing “Scottish accusations” of that fact. The language used and the spin put on this story seems, again, to be particularly inflammatory and in contradiction of the BBC's own charter.
These are just two examples of what appears to be a growing trend of anti-Scottish and particularly anti-SNP reporting by the BBC.
I have complained formally to the BBC on two occasions about anti-Scottish remarks broadcast. I did not feel that my complaint was treated seriously on either occasion and feel let down by the organisation which is supposed to represent me and my country.
Comments made on BBC Radio 4's Any Questions by Baroness Ruth Deech and Douglas Murray which were clearly derogatory to Scots went unchecked and prompted a stream of complaints. I, like many people I know, received a standard reply which did not satisfy the complaint.
There are many much more subtle examples of the bias evident in the BBCs news coverage.
The repeated reporting of inaccurate details and the blurring of two wholly separate stories with regards to the release of Al Megrahi from a Scottish prison was a sickening example of BBC Scotland's idea of “bringing the UK to the world” and in fact succeeded not to inform the wider world of events in Scotland as the public purpose in the charter would have licence fee payers believe, but to manufacture hatred based on inaccurate reporting of the issue.
Last month Stewart Stevenson was hounded out of office as Scotland's Transport Minister. I watched the interview with him on Newsnight Scotland in disgust, and have since contrasted the coverage of Scotland's snow “chaos” with that south of the border and found that the way Mr Stevenson was spoken to can be described as nothing less than a personal attack. BBC Scotland lied about the inaccuracies in its own weather forecast and seemingly pursued a witch-hunt against the minister in the following days.
Meanwhile the BBC refuses to so much as mention legitimate news stories covered by other broadcasters and print media, for example the diplomatic row caused Labour leader Iain Gray's inaccurate and offensive comments about Montenegro, or the limited reporting on disgraced Glasgow City Council leader Stephen Purcell.
The BBC is failing to “stimulate creativity and cultural excellence” by its censorship of other legitimate news sources – a prime example being the removal of any mention in Brian Taylor's blog of this very site. Newsnet Scotland offers a nationalist view which provides some balance to the unionist dominated print media in Scotland. Regular contributors to debates on BBC web pages have even been banned from Mr Taylor's blog for simply linking to this particular news source, while other sources are allowed. I know of people who have complained to moderators about this issue, to my knowledge there has been no explanation for this blatant bias and censorship.
There are many more examples of how the BBC is failing me and my fellow Scots in its coverage, and more are being highlighted daily by an increasingly aware and increasingly disappointed Scottish public.
I now rarely rely on the BBC for information on any topic, particularly Scottish politics or current affairs. When I do watch coverage or access online content I always make sure to look for the same story from other sources in order to ascertain the full facts of what is being presented. This is a sorry state of affairs and over many months I have found myself growing more and more resentful that I am paying, in the form of my monthly direct debit for the TV licence, for what I can only describe as propaganda. That is why I feel I must now withdraw payment of this fee and hope that my comments are taken on board and the issues raised are addressed.
The points I have outlined can all be found on Newsnet Scotland in more detail and I hope that others, like many before me, will have the courage to stand up for their principles and stop funding the biased BBC.
For the record: Whilst we understand the very real frustration at the behaviour of the BBC in Scotland, Newsnet Scotland cannot endorse any illegal activities. We encourage all vistors to the site to stay within the law.