By Derek Bateman
Fascinating to see the BBC's priorities revealed so nakedly tonight when Pacific Quay management contacted the University of the West of Scotland to object to the UWS Bias in Broadcasting report which, as far as I can see, they didn't have the courage to broadcast.
Instead of doing what any self-confident public service broadcaster should do and produce a news item out of a critical report from one of our own universities, they seem to have hidden it from the licence-fee paying public who bankroll them and then mounted a sabotage operation against the author.

I understand they are demanding to see the raw data such is their fury at being found out misleading viewers.  But even without seeing it, they themselves are reaching conclusions saying they doubt the "factual accuracy of a significant number of the contentions contained within the report and with the language used in the report itself."

In a letter from Ian Small, the head of public policy, which came to me via a third party source, they say: "many of the conclusions you draw are, on the evidence you provide, unsubstantiated and/or of questionable legitimacy."  You may detect the irony of this statement given what the report revealed about the BBC's reporting and presentation of referendum news.

There is little doubt that John Robertson's illuminating report has found out the questionable management of news at Pacific Quay when Small says the report is "highly subjective and questionable analysis of our news output."  Those are, in my view, spiteful and insulting accusations against a Scottish academic for which Small has no evidence whatsoever.  Are you getting the impression of an arrogant, out-of-touch, superior organization resentful of criticism and unable to defend itself without resorting to personal vilification?

So offended is this superannuated administrator that he demands to see the data so the BBC can make its own assessment.  Who qualified this pen-pusher to assess any academic's information?  Can we be allowed to see the budget information on which BBC Scotland bases decisions to sack so many experienced staff?  I don't think so.  Perhaps John Boothman will be asked to assess it instead.

And guess what gives the BBC's game away…their email has a c.c. to Craig Mahoney, the university principal…a classic piece of low cunning to intimidate an academic by referring it to his boss.

I think we need to rally and support this individual who has a track record in exposing media manipulation.  It is clear in this case he has struck a nerve at Pacific Quay where there are continual concerns at the running of the news operation which have now reached London but which simply don't move Kenny McQuarrie whose job it is to guarantee an impartial and accurate news service without which there will be no BBC Scotland.

It is the basis of the whole organization.  He is oblivious to the queue of experienced journalistic staff leaving and to the threatening attitude that is now the hallmark of a once liberal and free-wheeling organization.  No doubt when this report was brought to his attention he would express the kind of furious demand for a response that he should be using to energise the news department.

I am sending the details I have to my MSP and to the convenor of the Culture Committee at Holyrood – This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it – as I think it's time they began another series of investigations into BBC Scotland.  Remember, Kenny McQuarrie refused to go before them the last time until given a kick in the pants by the chairman of the Trust.  Such respect for the parliament.

I am also writing to the university principal This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it in support of his university and of Dr Robertson who should not be subject to bullying by public officials unable to do their job properly.  I urge you to do the same.

We have proof this week with the UWS report that the BBC is failing the Scots – yet again - remember less than half of Scots, 48%, believe the corporation is good at representing their lives through news and current affairs, the lowest proportion of any of the countries in the UK.

It strikes me as the height of hypocrisy for the BBC to try to badger an independent organization because it can't stand it revealing the truth – that it is failing in its primary duty to the Scots…and they didn't even report it.  Therefore let's also tell Mr Small what we think of his efforts – This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  After all the BBC is always saying it wants to hear from you….

Courtesy of Derek Bateman


# Mac 2014-01-22 23:08
BBC Scotland loses the plot.

This is a direct threat to academic freedom. The academics union UCU will be hoping mad at this development.
# Muz 2014-01-22 23:15
"So offended is this superannuated administrator that he demands to see the data so the BBC can make its own assessment."

May I suggest Mr. Robertson considers redacting his documents.

This is the standard BBC reporting format and they will therefore find it easier to read and pass their valuable opinion (that most Scots don't trust).
# James01 2014-01-22 23:15
This kind of bullying by a state broadcaster is something more akin to Russia or China, utterly disgraceful.
# fynesider 2014-01-22 23:34
Goodonyer Derek...
# Christian_Wright 2014-01-22 23:45
The only way to expose the extent of BBC malfeasance is by way of an official inquiry.

There are two distinct orders of possible wrong-doing that need to be investigated:

1) Violations of the BBC CHARTER by the Corporation's employees.

2) Criminal violations of law with respect to misuse or misappropriatio n of public monies, and violations of election law by BBC employees

Such an inquiry benefits the BBC as much as is serves the public interest by promoting transparency.

The inquiry must have power to:

Compel attendance of witnesses whose testimony must be given under oath.

Require the surrender of printed and electronic communications, appointment diaries, and the release of phone records relevant to the investigation.

Complaining to the TRUST or one's MSP ain't gonna cut it. The call for an inquiry has to come from the Scottish Government, and the principals of the independence campaign.
# X_Sticks 2014-01-22 23:52
Edit of post on Derek's blog:

A huge thanks to your third party source – they should be commended for their bravery.

I will take your advice and email all parties involved.

I watched the livestream event tonight from Business for Scotland:

In the Q&A session there was a gentleman on there who said that members of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra have been told that if they vote for independence they will all lose their jobs. They were also told that they must not tell this to anyone.

I made me wonder how many others in BBC Scotland have been told the same thing. Vote for independence and lose your job. How many others are being intimidated by BBC?

I hope McQuarrie, Boothman and Small are all dismissed. We might then start to get some real impartiality from our state broadcaster.

Welcome to the club Mr Bateman. We will win this :)
# Jamieson 2014-01-23 10:33
We must not overreact to these sort of things. Even if the accusation about the Orchestra were true how would the BBC know how people voted?
# Breeks 2014-01-23 12:33
True, but prior to the vote, you'll hardly want to discuss the issue with your workmates. The message is, if you're a nationalist, shut your trap and keep it to yourself.

Shut your trap, keep it to yourself, and while you're about it, don't tell anybody you've been threatened. This is BBC culture, - just ask Jimmy Saville's victims.
# X_Sticks 2014-01-23 12:34
Am I over-reacting?

Don't think so. Just reporting what I saw.

Don't you think we should question people being intimidated by state organisations? I do.
# tartanpigsy 2014-01-22 23:54
Time to make a stand people!

In 3 months we will be approaching the official referendum period and the BBC will be playing it squeeky clean for all the world to see what wonderful, impartial believers in democracy they are.

Meanwhile they do everything in their powers to subvert this referendum and deny Scotland her place in the world!

We must take action now to highlight their desperate, underhand tactics, perhaps a vigil at Pacific Quay?

Certainly the public AND their staff need to know what they are up to.
# CapnAndy 2014-01-23 00:11
Well. If they'd kept quiet they might have got away with it, however this is a spectacular own goal. Right in the back of the net.
This will now run and run. Magic!
# tartanfever 2014-01-23 00:51
Isn't it bizarre that the BBC would ask for the raw data when they are the people who produced it ?

All they need to do is study the freely available report against the programmes they produced for broadcast.

Just how many FOI requests are turned down by the BBC ? UWS should take a leaf out of their book and tell them they can't release the data for 'journalistic' reasons - give them a dose of their own medicine.
# cjmasta 2014-01-23 01:04
I have commented here previously that when speaking to a friend who works at pacific quay a work colleague brought up the independence debate and said that he was told if Scotland votes for independence he would be out of a job.
I`m not surprised really that this kind of thing is going on but all the same it is shocking and is such a clear sign of an agenda going on which many of us have been aware of but not enough people are yet.
I know someone personally who worked their until recently but is in NI working for the BBC at the moment.
I think i`ll have to contact him and ask him if anything along the same lines was ever said to him. Will need to think about how to approach him about it though. Probably best over a pint when he`s back next.
# Independista 2014-01-23 01:21
I have sent off the following complaint to BBC and STV.

"According to a recent academic study by University of the West of Scotland, ‘Fairness in the First Year?’ , both BBC Scotland’s and STV’s news reporting of the referendum has shown a heavy bias to the No side.
Why then, has this study not been reported by either organisation?
Worse still, we now find that BBC Scotland have described the findings as of ‘questionable legitimacy’.
Does your organisation subscribe to this analysis of a report you refused to cover in your news bulletins?
I am copying this to the BBC, BBC Trust, STV."
# Christian_Wright 2014-01-23 01:23
Intimidation of a distinguished academic by a senior representative of the publicly financed state broadcaster is a disturbing turn of events. "Great job you have there Prof . . Pity if something bad were to happen to it".

That sort of thing is the stock-in-trade of gangsters and is unbecoming of a senior figure speaking for the BBC. What comes through in this response is high hubris and an overweening arrogance.: "How dare a mere academic criticizse us".

Perhaps this is just a glimpse under the rock. One shudders to think what manner of crawling things might be found under there were it to be turned completely over .
# gus1940 2014-01-23 04:49

Why was tuesday's Anas Sarwar Show broadcast on BBC2.

As a significant % of viewers are totally averse to BBC2 is this a sign that they want as few people as possible to watch the program as such debates invariably end up with Project Fear being trounced.

Is it the intention to broadcast all future debates and other programs to do with the Referendum on BBC2.

On another tack what the hell is Sillars up to. In spite of protestations of wanting YES to win he seems to be embarking on a subtle clssic Perfidious Albion Divide and Rule Operation.

I accept that to win YES will have to gain the support of a significant % of Labour supporters but it is not necessarty to alienate and scare off existing YES supporters and those currently undecided but thinking of supporting YES.

The time for the stuff he is advocating is once we have won on 18/9 when the future political path of an Indpendent can be debated and voted for.
# Jo Bloggs 2014-01-23 10:12

This is the reason Jim Sillars is a former politician, not First Minister. He's not so good on the strategic thinking.
# cynicalHighlander 2014-01-23 06:12
Mr Robertson has commented:

Dear Mr Small,

Thank you for your letter.

I would be pleased to discuss my report live on Newsnight Scotland at the earliest opportunity.


John Robertson
# Jamieson 2014-01-23 11:11
Now that really is a ballsy reply. No sign being intimidated there!
# zorbathejock 2014-01-23 06:17
I made me wonder how many others in BBC Scotland have been told the same thing. Vote for independence and lose your job. How many others are being intimidated by BBC?
This is sinister. How will they know who voted for what?The ballot is supposed to be secret.
# X_Sticks 2014-01-23 10:09
There was a chap on the Business for Scotland webcast last night who said that the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra had been told the same thing. They were also told they must not talk about this.

You can catch the Q&A here:

Its in the second half of the video, sorry, don't have the time mark for it.
# Jo Bloggs 2014-01-23 13:59
Could be they just mean if Scotland becomes independent there will be no more BBC Scotland and therefore no BBC Scotland Symphony Orchestra. Scaremongering definitely, but intimidation? Hardly.
# Al Ghaf 2014-01-23 07:00
"So offended is this superannuated administrator that he demands to see the data"

Gawd I would laff if the BBC sent in an FoI request to the UWS and it got summarily rejected.
# Breeks 2014-01-23 07:14
Don't waste your time writing to the BBC. Instead, write to the university and show your support for John Robertson. He now has a £3.4billion bloated monster attempting to break him and destroy his professional integrity. Let's make sure they don't get away with it.

You can bet there will be other backhand devices applied to the university vitals too. Let's hope it stands strong and doesn't buckle to threats over funding.

John Robertson needs our support.
# Mac 2014-01-23 07:36
Are BBC managers telling employees in Scotland they will lose their jobs if Scots votes YES?

That is a story worth pursuing.
# hiorta 2014-01-23 07:51
BBC Scotland? Hmmh… elected by Scotland? Or foisted upon us?
Paid by Westminster.
# jdman 2014-01-23 08:00
It would seem the BBC has only one nerve left and WE'RE getting on it,
I sent a complaint that was not a particularly political one re airing of MotD in Scotland and simply pointed out the BBC might have shown a little consideration to the veiwers in Scotland by showing us something other that highlights of Aston Villa v West Ham as the average viewer here is not exactly sitting on the edge of their seat in anticipation, the 18 (FRONT AND BACK) page rant(that's all you could call it) I got back was a naked attack on the independence movement I would have printed the astonishing reply but I would probably have to do it in about 8 or 9 posts and I have a dentist appointment in an hour (looking forward to it) :)
# Spirtle 2014-01-23 08:38
All part of the propaganda war eh!
The BBC's machine will be moving up a gear to dismantle and discredit an academic study because it does not fit with its own agenda and calls into question its very own sense of 'integrity'.

At least something at last has gotten under the thick skin of the folk at the BBC. Lets se if this wobble will become a collapse of some sort.

Keep the pressure on.
# IXL 2014-01-23 09:21
This reminiscent of when I moved to Deeside in the late 70s and was told that Tory supporting estate owners routinely threatened estate workers at election time. Phrases such as " remember we can find out how you voted..." were used to intimidate and try to bolster the Tory vote.

They *re still at it - same old tories - just variations in colour variety !
# H Scott 2014-01-23 09:27
So the UWS report is not important enough for BBC Scotland to report but important enough for them to attack it.
# Diabloandco 2014-01-23 10:12
I don't think we should get our knickers in a twist about what amounts to the empty threat " vote YES and you're fired"
unless to publicise those making the threat.
The ballot box is for one and where that cross goes is known only unto one - what anyone tells any bullying boss about where one put ones cross is neither here nor there!

The BBBC needs to be brought up short over their tactics. I hope the principal is a strong defender of his staff and defends the academic findings very publically.
# rodmac 2014-01-23 10:31
Well done Derek Bateman, the BBC have really put their foot in it this time!

somewhat o/t but relevant I think is this.

# Leswil 2014-01-23 11:48
We should organise a petition of complaint against this. It could be available across all Indy website/blogs/facebook/twitter and all social media. Thousands may sign,then handed in to BBC Scotland and copied to the board of the BBC.

Every free thinking individual should show utter contempt for this cowardly action of our mighty BBC.
# Leswil 2014-01-23 12:07
# gus1940

In reference to Jim Sillers, I gree with some of the things he says, ie I would prefer to join EFTA, I would also prefer a Scottish currency pegged to Sterling. My preference for the currency would be Sc$ the Scottish Dollar.

However that is where it ends, I like you do not understand his constant bickering against the SNP, I would remind him that if it were not for the SNP there would be no chance of a referendum. Sometimes he comes across as a bitter man, possibly for historical reasons.

It is unhelpful to further confuse voters, after a Yes there will be time to discuss and vote on what we prefer to do. Sillers has his right to be heard and he could be then,instead of adding confusion at this important time.
# proudscot 2014-01-23 14:23
Well done to John Robertson for meeting Ian Small's attack head-on by offering to debate the issue of BBC Scotland's perceived anti-independence bias.

However, I do question his choice of Newnight Scotland as the platform for such a debate. The presenter of this particular programme, Gordon Brewer, has previous for his continual interruptions and talking over of pro-independence interviewees, while soft-pedalling on pro-union speakers.

How about one of our SNP MSPs raising this matter at FMQs? After all, such a glaring example of an attempt to bully an academic into silence by the State Broadcaster, is surely worthy of mention and subsequent exposure in our parliament.
# goldenayr 2014-01-23 16:10
OT but still related to the extent of twisting that the British establishment will go to.
There's a story in the P&J today featuring some Edinburgh born bigwig in the Royal Mail,can't remember his name.Anyhoos,he's giving a speech to Borderers in which he'll state that they've been good neighbours with those on the other side since Bannockburn.
Talk about rewriting history?
# Claverhouse 2014-01-23 18:31
BBC - Big Brother Corp, they are a disgrace
The referendum is turning out to be more for democracy it self...
# RTP 2014-01-23 20:36
Have mailed Mr Small saying I am looking forward to his live debate with Mr Robertson?? with Derek Bateman as the referee not much chance of that happening I suppose.
# tarbat 2014-01-23 21:20
Slightly O/T, but relevant to the BBC. I see Brian Taylor is confused about who Johann Lamont and Ruth Davidson are. To quote his blog at

"Over to Ruth Davidson of the Tories. She was concerned about reducing numbers of college places, notably affecting women. Mr Salmond said that the numbers of Full Time Equivalent places had been maintained at promised levels. Ms Lamont responded that he had not addressed himself to the issue of women."

Better Together - even better when they're the same!
# creigs1707repeal 2014-01-23 22:29
It seems to me that the BBC seem to think that they are the 'mind and voice of the people'. They are not and the sooner they recognise and understand that, the better for all of us.

They have made serious mistakes from serious errors of judgement in this 'national conversation'. They should take them on-board and learn from them. That is what a decent, fully impartial, listening state broadcaster would do, If they don't and they simply carry on regardless, then all they are doing is creating a rod for their own backs. Why don't they understand this simple truth?
# RTP 2014-01-23 23:54
My email returned from Mr Small
The following message to was undeliverable.
The reason for the problem:
5.1.2 - Bad destination host 'DNS Malformed Query Error looking up
Has he gone into hiding
# Barbazenzero 2014-01-24 00:20
The message isn't complaining about Small's email address but about the BBC's mail (SMTP) server itself.

Could the volume of mail traffic have crashed it?

Tonight's mention of this topic on QT, skillfully got in by an audience member, could have started a flood. Would be interesting to know how many hits this server got around 23:00 UTC.
# BRL 2014-01-24 00:55
The last comment on QT, by someone who could easily be a UKIP-er, actually put the whole 'debate' in place by unintentionally demanding that following NO - it should be finished with for 100 years.

So, sods law has done for him and his mission - he's probably given many 'don't knows' every reason now to vote YES!
# jdman 2014-01-24 06:59
Leswil says
" I like you do not understand his constant bickering against the SNP,"

I do, remember he comes from the Labour "entitlement" mindset when they don't get their way the dummy gets spat,

he would do well to remember the personal feelings and disappointments of one person do no mean diddly squat in the broad sweep of history, and if his petulance is responsible for the change of mind of the single voter that takes us below the win line he will go down in history as the spoiler who halted the second Scottish renaissance in its tracks,

Grow up Jim
# Andy Anderson 2014-01-24 12:37
We can't let the BBC away with this threatening move against an academic who dares to question their activity.
This is a public body and must be shown that they are under observation by their owners.
# G. P. Walrus 2014-01-24 12:52
I emailed the BBC PR department asking what their response to the report was as you suggested Derek. Got no reply whatsoever.

I will certainly be emailing the UWS Principal in support of John Robertson's academic freedom to contribute his analysis of broadcaster coverage of the independence debate. It is demonstrably of public interest, as evidenced by the response it has generated.

You must be logged-in in order to post a comment.


Donate to Newsnet Scotland


Latest Comments