By Bob Duncan
 
BBC Scotland bosses have hit back at claims Radio Scotland is a "national disgrace" after a leading academic criticised the station's output.
 
Historian Tom Devine described the broadcaster as "inadequate" and said Scottish licence payers were being let down by a "constant stream" of music and phone-ins at what is the most important period in the country's history.

Mr Devine made his remarks during a public debate, entitled Independence and Identity, organised by The Sunday Herald. 

Commenting on the station’s output, the Edinburgh University historian said:

“I’ve long thought that BBC Radio Scotland is a national disgrace, and it’s our BBC.  There could be a resource issue but I don’t think that excuses the constant stream of cheap musical programmes.

“It seems extraordinary that when we are debating the most important issue in the history of the nation, at least since the 18th century, that we should have such an inadequate broadcaster.”

However, a BBC spokesperson defended the station’s output and said: “Tom may not be aware, but Radio Scotland has been moving towards a speech-by-daytime, music-by-evening schedule for some time.  Our evening music strands are highly valued by our listeners who don’t share his view that we provide too much music.
 
“And while Tom may not like phone-ins, listeners tell us that they value the chance to participate and contribute to the issues of the day rather than only having an option of listening to the opinions of a limited number of voices.”

"Our varied schedule has attracted consistently high listening figures and positive audience feedback over the last couple of years. The programmes range from major historical series, arts and culture features and science documentaries to compelling set-piece interviews.

"Drama is featured in the schedule – for instance, we have a four-parter coming up, The Mysterious Case of Dr Hyde.

"Edi Stark's interviews are highly regarded by our audiences and by her peers in the broadcasting industry and Brian Taylor's Big Debate regularly covers the issues which matter to our audiences.

"We are also proud of our support for specialist music in our evening schedule which includes shows by Jamie MacDougall on classics, Bruce MacGregor on folk, Ricky Ross on Americana, and Iain Anderson with his mix of folk, blues and rock'n'roll."

On Monday, Mr Devine replied to his critics in an open letter published in the Herald, where he said his attack was focussed on managers rather than journalists.

He wrote: “The BBC is manifestly a world-class institution.  My concern is simply that one part of it, Radio Scotland, has not excelled in recent years at a historic time for the nation when factual programming, expert insight, the clash of ideas and quality discussion in our media are so vital.

“The potential for all this is there in the many skilled journalists employed by the station.  The weakness is not theirs but in managerial policy and decision.

“I am pleased, of course, to concede that a partial rebalancing of the schedules has been taking place and that the humdrum diet of pop music (available elsewhere in a host of other channels) and mediocre chat shows is not quite as dominant as it once was.

“Nevertheless, there is a long way to go before all-round excellence in the output is achieved.”

However, figures released last month show that BBC Radio Scotland’s listener numbers have fallen by just over seven per cent in 12 months.

According to RAJAR, the audit body responsible for measuring the reach of Radio stations, Radio Scotland’s average listener total when comparing the second quarter of 2011 with the same period this year, is down from 1.35 million to 959,000.

The station also experienced a drop from the first quarter of 2012 to the second quarter, of almost 5 per cent.

Mr Devine's stinging attack on Radio Scotland came in the wake of last week's widely criticised announcement of severe cuts planned for BBC Scotland's budget, and which will result in at least 35 jobs being lost at the Pacific Quay headquarters in Glasgow.

Paul Holleran, NUJ Scottish organiser said of the announcement: "While we knew cuts were coming I think it would be no exaggeration to state that people in radio and the newsroom in particular were shocked at the large numbers affected.
 
“At a time when BBC Scotland should be getting more resources to deal with the growing demand for political debate around the independence referendum and what kind of a future we want for Scotland then these cuts are forced through because of the bad deal over the licence fee settlement.
 
“They are finding it difficult to produce programmes with the current straffing levels - and only then with a lot of good will from our members.  At the moment, I am pessimistic about these cuts happening without conflict but we will be meeting management again soon to hear their proposals and that will give us a clearer picture."

The announcement, which was made last week, was also condemned by Pete Wishart MP who called it a "devastating blow" for output in news and current affairs across Scotland.

The SNP MP called the decision to cut staff at a time when Scotland is in the middle of an unprecedented constitutional debate “astonishing” and said viewers in Scotland “deserve balanced, high quality and impartial journalism from right across the country”.  Mr Wishart claimed the losses would limit the capabilities of BBC Scotland, especially beyond the central belt.

Comments  

 
# theycantbeserious 2012-09-03 22:41
Just part of westminsters master plan to stifle debate and limit the opportunity for facts to get out to the people of Scotland....but then again the programming/quality/content/priority is down to the bbc management.

Maybe the unhappy sacked will spill the beans on bbc scotland policy re the independence debate?
 
 
# J Wil 2012-09-03 22:47
Leslie Riddoch gave BBC Scotland a beetling too in the Sunday Times yesterday.

The BBC always take the same stance, viz, we can do no wrong, when we all know that could not be further from the truth. No change tonight on Newsnicht with the political editors of the Unionist Daily Record, the Unionist Scotsman, together with the Unionist presenter in the studio of our Unionist national broadcaster. BBC Scotland are not listening.

Why do we want a commentary on beached whales for about five or ten minutes, on every news cast for days, when one minute would suffice?

On the other hand, Brian's big - debate!
 
 
# Jacko 2012-09-03 22:51
"Brian Taylor's Big Debate regularly covers the issues which matter to our audiences."

Therein lays the root of falling audiences and claims of a 'national disgrace'.

Were it a commercial station they would be entitled to make such a claim without protest.

However, as a public service broadcaster fully funded by every single Scottish tax payer, what they should be covering, at such an important time is what matters to Scotland. Not serving up a menu of pap propaganda and opinion pieces.

They should be informing, not espousing Unioninst mantra.
 
 
# colin8652 2012-09-04 06:06
The said big debate comes from where i live in Aberfeldy this week. There are wee posters up advertising it. The posters have a picture of the large one in front of a list of suggested topics for discussion. there is every topic listed that you could think of save one. ... yes you guessed it. Independence, the biggest issue facing our country in three hundred years and the BBC wont even mention on their posters.
 
 
# Mark 2012-09-03 22:59
I have long stopped listening to BBC Scotland because of its bias against the SNP and the Yes campaign.
Mr Divine is right, unless BBC radio starts making programs that are not biased towards the unionists parties, then it will lose more listeners like myself.
 
 
# Early Ball 2012-09-03 23:02
Are you sure you have the percentages right Bob? 1.35 million to 959,000 is a lot more than a 7 per cent drop, nearer 30 per cent I would say.

I was channel hopping on my car radio at lunchtime and I put on the dire John Beattie show. I was interested in a golf interview with Richie Ramsay. After it finished John Beattie remarked on the fact that there was no football in the sports bulletin and this was unusual. Liam MacLeod said that they dont always have football and for instance they were all about the Olympics recently. Aileen Clarke then came up with an interesting throwaway line. "That's because you had to" Obviously they all had their orders.
 
 
# cuckooshoe 2012-09-04 15:59
Quoting Early Ball:
Are you sure you have the percentages right Bob? 1.35 million to 959,000 is a lot more than a 7 per cent drop, nearer 30 per cent I would say.

I was channel hopping on my car radio at lunchtime and I put on the dire John Beattie show. I was interested in a golf interview with Richie Ramsay. After it finished John Beattie remarked on the fact that there was no football in the sports bulletin and this was unusual. Liam MacLeod said that they dont always have football and for instance they were all about the Olympics recently. Aileen Clarke then came up with an interesting throwaway line. "That's because you had to" Obviously they all had their orders.


dire? you are too kind.. that programme has to be the worst radio programme in the world
 
 
# RoBell 2012-09-03 23:12
"deserve balanced, high quality and impartial journalism from right across the country”: It may be what we deserve and what we desire but the EBC has not been, and has no intention of, delivering that.

It is time to stop paying the licence fee, as we are merely supporting Unionist propaganda.
 
 
# call me dave 2012-09-03 23:17
Phone ins (eg: call kaye)
The BBC above say.

Listeners tell us that they value the chance to participate and contribute to the issues of the day rather than only having an option of listening to the opinions of a limited number of voices.”

Aye right!

Pity about the Blether with Brian then . . blog closed . . and we are all desperate to participate. Can't have it both ways.



Look at the BBC politics page:
Been the same for months.

A rumbustious TV rammy
20:24 UK time, Friday, 29 June 2012


and on the same page , just to keep the FM in his place how about this on about the same date:

Scottish Parliament
Watch
Alex Salmond says the temporary closure of a children's ward at St John's hospital in Livingston is "clearly unsatisfactory" during first minister's questions on 28 June 2012.


Good old BBC Scotland.
 
 
# Angry_Weegie 2012-09-04 11:11
Couldn't agree more. Of course, phone-ins allow the BBC to vet those who go on the air to make sure they are going to express the right point of view. They can't do that (yet) on the blogs, but as soon as they can, I'm sure they'll restore the participation we all deserve.

On the point of the politics page, I had been wondering if Brian had died and no one told us or if he was just having a well deserved summer holiday to recharge his batteries after such a long period of thinking up new ways to discredit the SG. Either that or nothing worth commenting on has happened for more than two months. Newsnet must be congratutated for coming up with new items at a time when nothing is going on.
 
 
# Barontorc 2012-09-04 01:14
Well said Tom Devine!

The tradesmen journos at the BBC are working to a culture within BBC Scotland. and the BBC responder named many names who would happily grace the airwaves of an independent broadcasting system - but there is some thing seriously wrong at the heart of Pathetic Quay.

No doubt the dossier of bias and complaint handed to the BBC Director General and head of the BBC Trust Chris Patton will have to be updated from the date of its handover - but nothing's surer, something stinks to the high heavens at the BBC.

Try working through the policy makers, there's a major issue there.

BBC Scotland is losing listeners in droves because of the stupid dumbing down of programmes - Call Kaye, Fred McAuley and even John Beattie are not much better than wallpaper - and that's from 9.00 till mid-day. What a waste of opportunity.
 
 
# Breeks 2012-09-04 06:53
How typically patronising of the BBC spokesperson,-
“Tom may not be aware, but..."
and
"While Tom may not like phone-ins..."

The BBC's arrogance towards Scottish listeners (and viewers) beggars belief. When do we reach the point that enough is enough?
 
 
# UpSpake 2012-09-04 07:14
You poor stupid people will you never get it into your thick head, we the BBC are totally omnipotent and beyond criticism. We extract the license tax from you screaming and writhing so that we can let you know how the world is from our masters in London.
You poor deluded fools, the output of the BBC TV or Radio was never intended to reflect what is happening in your dependent rump of a country and for so long as you dare to consider breaking up our beloved country England/UK we will continue to belittle you and to keep you firmly in your place, subservient to the Great British State as we are their official propagandist. Has that gotten through your thick heads ?. Write to us all you like, bang on our doors and complain till the cows come home, we are deaf to your miserable mutterings.
Remember at all times. We TAX you for the priviledge to stuffing our unionist views down your throats.
Take your daily dose of our vile propaganda and remember, at all times, keep paying !!!.
 
 
# Jim Johnston 2012-09-04 07:35
Ah yes UpSpake, I fully understand Aunty Beeb's position, but when you tell them you "Don't require it" in writing, (to which they don't reply), the buggers keep sending you begging then threatening letters, (to which I don't reply either), followed by some agent they employ knocking on your door and disturbing your peace. The last caller suggested I "simply remove the arial and it should be ok" ???

Maybe I need to rephrase "I don't require it", and just tell them "to stuff it".
 
 
# Marga B 2012-09-04 07:26
"Radio Scotland has been moving towards a speech-by-daytime, music-by-evening schedule for some time". Who asked them to do this? Anyone?

Why then does BBC radio 4 national, for instance, keep (expensive?) speech programmes all through the day and into the night? England and Scotland pay the same licence fee. Whenever I visit, it has to be the UK radio for much of the day.

What is so unique about the Scots that they can't have speech programmes? The BBC must know, because e.g. the Guardian has published the maps, that almost 100% of Scotland, unlike England, takes the BBC as gospel re. news and opinion, making this stance particularly toxic.

NB what happens in Wales? Anyone have any input on the Welsh BBC?
 
 
# J Wil 2012-09-04 18:36
What is so unique about the Scots that they can't have speech programmes?"

MAy I suggest it's the BBC's, 'Lets keep them ignorant', agenda at work?
 
 
# Marian 2012-09-04 07:41
Professor Tom Devine is absolutely spot on with his criticisms of the BBC in Scotland when he says it is a "national disgrace" which is "inadequate" and when he says that Scottish licence payers were being let down by a "constant stream" of music and phone-ins at what is the most important period in the country's history.

The BBC are defending the indefensible with their pathetic explanation of why it is that they are obsessed with copying the kind of dumbed down stuff that is provided by nearly every commercial radio station when what is really needed is a Radio 4 type channel with a Scots perspective.
 
 
# A Ship Called Dignity 2012-09-04 08:01
'However, figures released last month show that BBC Radio Scotland’s listener numbers have fallen by just over seven per cent in 12 months.'

Is there a common denominator at work here? I noted the recent figures for the Scottish News papers are all down also, but the most vociferous pro union papers seem to be fairing the worst.

BBC Scotland apart from being objective should by and large reflect the mood of the nation (politically). It quite clearly isn't.

The Scottish Papers based here, although its no secret that their output is controlled by Owners/Editors usually with an agenda. If I were running a business of any description, I would like to think that I would be able to understand my customer and provide them with a product that appealed to them, if for no other reason than profitability and indeed survival.

Constantly running anti Scottish Government/SNP stories I would contest also goes againt the general public consensus that the SG in general are doing a good job in very difficult circumstances (a restrictive Devolution settlement and the car crash that is the UK economy) to name but two.

I would suggest that they ignore the general Scottish public mood at their peril!
 
 
# Wee-Scamp 2012-09-04 08:16
Good for Mr Devine. I'm sorry to say I rarely listen to Radio Scotland and much prefer Radio 4. Either that or I leave Bloomberg on in the background when I'm working.
 
 
# Mark MacLachlan 2012-09-04 08:50
Ahem... an pictorial representation of our relationship with that Westminster.

scotlandsaysyes.com/.../...
 
 
# Marga B 2012-09-04 11:14
OT tweet from Jack McConnell re. cabinet re-shuffle:

"I would have abolished Sec of State for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and made Ken Clarke SoS for UK Nations and Regions. #reshuffle"
 
 
# Jiggsbro 2012-09-04 19:09
That's a good idea. It would have saved them making someone redundant in 2014.
 
 
# manxbhoy 2012-09-04 13:02
 
 
# hektorsmum 2012-09-04 17:55
Thanks for that, it came up with a questionnaire about the site so I had great pleasure in telling them I had been directed by someone on Newsnet, managed to get Newsnet in twice. Now I know how Newsnet is a red rag to a bull.
 
 
# The_Duke 2012-09-04 13:43
Seems we can finally comment on the BBC Scotland.

bbc.co.uk/.../...
 
 
# pa_broon74 2012-09-04 14:09
Quoting The_Duke:
Seems we can finally comment on the BBC Scotland.

bbc.co.uk/.../...


Even now, its turning into another great example of measured unionist argument versus visceral swivel-eyed nationalist bile and hatred.

Oh, hold on...

I do listen to call kaye on the way to work, but I'm embarrassed to say, for similar reasons other people watch shows like Jeremy Kyle or Deal or No Deal, usually because one can't help but feel clever and enlightened by the folk they have on.
 
 
# Old Smokey 2012-09-04 14:09
Yes but you cant mention the fact that you cant normally comment on Scottish politics
I commented as follows :
'26.You
Just now
What is remarkable is that we are allowed to comment on a political story from Scotland. No doubt normal service will be resumed with the continuation of no comments allowed'

Just received an e-mail from the BBC
stating :
"Thank you for contributing to the BBC web site. Unfortunately we've had to remove the content below because it contravened one of our House Rules.

Your comment was considered to have broken the following House Rule:

"We reserve the right to fail comments which...

Are considered to be off-topic for the discussion."
YET
there is a comment, which was made at the same time stating :
"25.Mighty Blighty
Just now
11.Loony Liberal -
Scotland once again doing the things that are progressive and will benefit its people.

- would this be the progressive things like letting Al meghari out - and the Edinburgh trams fiasco? and as Helen of Troy says spending £48K on a jolly to see "Brave"?

I would say that was off topic as well, yet that's left
So its clearly obvious that the BBC dont like criticism and hide behind there so call house rules
 
 
# Jiggsbro 2012-09-04 18:05
Really? You think a comment about Scottish politics - on a Scottish politics story, in response to another comment about Scottish politics - is just as off-topic as a comment, out of the blue, about BBC editorial policy? You were discussing a different subject to the article and your post was removed, because it breached the rules. Posts that didn't breach the rules weren't removed. It happens here, it happens on most internet forums and it happens at the BBC. There are a lot of things wrong with the BBC, but this isn't one of them. It's this sort of ungrounded, trivial complaint that allows the BBC to dismiss serious complaints as all part of a nationalist determination to find fault with everything and see bias where none exists. "It's so unfair!" is rarely a persuasive argument.
 
 
# Leswil 2012-09-04 14:52
I like others like to watch F/Q, which is usually on at 12.00 on Thursdays.
It is a constant annoyance to me that it is presented as "debates from the Scottish Parliament"
What happened to "Scottish First Minister's Questions?"

A lot of people will just pass bye "debates" not knowing the FM is on live.
WHY? is it advertised as this?

I will assume that the mighty BBC now this and use it so as to have as many viewers as possible for it.

"Northern Ireland First Minister"," Welsh First Minister" and us. DEBATES FROM THE SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT!

There is absolutely no doubt the BBC are BIAS as hell, and while always denying it they really do not care a hoot who really knows. Absolutely makes my blood boil.
 
 
# ButeHouse 2012-09-04 17:58
It's not surprising that BBC Radio Scotland felt obliged to enter the fray after being savaged by two big beasts, Riddoch and Devine.

One would have been bad enough. What we need of course of is more big names to voice their displeasure and more and more listeners make their voice known.

But of course we shouldn't just stop at BBC RADIO, we all know how shocking BBC TV is.

Despite history being made in Holyrood today with the introduction of the Referendum Bill BBC Scotland news has finished almost 6 MINUTES early.

Not THAT you couldn't make up.

VOTE YES
 
 
# tilly 2012-09-04 19:14
O/T

Quebec votes in tight three-way race
Voting has begun in the Canadian French-speaking province of Quebec to elect a new government.

Opinion polls suggest the Parti Quebecois (PQ) - which seeks separation from the rest of Canada - could take power away from the governing Liberals.

tinyurl.com/c7oqsae
 
 
# Seagetagrip 2012-09-04 19:32
Taylor has commented on First Minister speech which clearly went out UK wide. Comments have been allowed and are mostly derogatory re everthing Scottish as you might expect. Hardly worth commenting. But what happened to the reasons for closing down comments on Taylors Blogs? The powers that be at Pacific Quay are clearly telling porkies.
 
 
# pistonbroke 2012-09-04 19:52
Nae Luck BBC .
 
 
# G. Campbell 2012-09-04 19:55
ENGLAND

The BBC have paid £179.7million to keep their rights to the Match of the Day highlights programme of Premier League games for three years from the 2013/14 season.

The deal is a 4.5% increase on the £172million the broadcaster paid for the current deal.


independent.co.uk/.../...

SCOTLAND

The BBC Scotland contract with the Scottish Premier League has changed this season and so we do not commentate on all games.

Our contract has changed because we, like most publicly funded organisations, have budget cuts to implement. For football, this means that we have reduced the amount of money we pay to the SPL and now cover fewer live commentaries. We have made additional production savings as we do not send commentators and summarisers to all matches.

Although you do not appear to enjoy Open all Mikes, our audience research suggests that the format is well received and covers the whole of Scottish football in an entertaining and informative way and provides reporters at all SPL matches ensuring we are first with every incident"


hmfckickback.co.uk/.../...
 
 
# lochside 2012-09-04 20:19
This info is the type of stuff that the non-aligned and uncommitted voters need to see and be told. Although fitba fans on here are few in number, there are 100s of thousands throughout Scotland. Here in black and white is a straightforward demonstration of theft of our money to subsidise a bloated English sporting institution. While our game is starved of investment, and as a consequence we are mocked (and self-mock)at our inadequate performances both at club and national levels..here is the reason: Political and essentialy racist bias. The rationale: Give all the money to our (their) game because 'its the greatest league in the world' and deny it to the Jocks, because they're crap basically. (on top of Sky's obscene donation ..to which Scots again provide a disproportionat e amount). Rangers fans maybe should look at these figures and work out why your discredited ex-board maybe decided to spend far more than they could ever raise from the 'British' BBC. The game has been a bogey as far as Scotland's concerned for twenty years.
 
 
# Clydebuilt 2012-09-04 21:16
G. Campbell

Yes I heard Richard Gordon read this out.
Would like to find out by howmuch has the cash the bbc pays to the SFA has been cut.
it would make a powerful comparison with the increase of 4.5% going to the F.A.
This comes at a bad time for Scottish football, when every penny counts.

People need to know about this.
 
 
# bipod 2012-09-04 21:37
I just watched Brian Taylors piece on BBC news. It seems like he is not even bothering to make it look like he is sitting on the fence anymore. When he was talking about the SNP's policies on the economy he described them as "populist", which quite happily fits in the the unionist smear that Alex Salmond is a "dangerous populist".

The BBC has also allowed comments on its article. But of course the editors picks are almost entirely Pro Union, SNP bashing comments, mostly about how SNP policies don't stand up to "scrutiny".
 
 
# Wullie B 2012-09-04 22:09
Just entered this on Beeb blog how long will it stay any betsQuote:
550. Wullie B Just now Instead of reading Westminster State propoganda on the BBC or MSM read Scottish news and Views newsnetscotland.com/ and for really interesting reading regarding the myths that MSM , Westminster and especially the BBC peddle this article is a must read newsnetscotland.com/.../...

bbc.co.uk/.../...
 
 
# WilliamO 2012-09-05 13:57
I see it's now been removed. It 'broke the house rules'!! No surprise there. It really beggars belief that this Corporation funded by the Scottish people is permitted to get away with this. It really sets the mind wondering just what we can do about it... apart from not paying the TV Tax.
 
 
# Wullie B 2012-09-05 15:06
It was removed before I got back to after writing the above post which was mostly copied and pasted , but according to their own rules , there was nothing being broken
 

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