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BBC Scotland is in the news again after the announcement that presenter Gary Robertson is facing redundancy. Crowds of protestors gathered yesterday outside Pacific Quay in Glasgow to protest at what they believed is an institutionalised bias against independence (‘Crisis-Hit BBC Scotland Faces Summer Of Disruption Amid Claims Of Bias‘) and the corporation now faces the threat of strike action.

On top of this, Bella Caledonia can exclusively reveal that the replacement for the popular Headlines programme on Radio Scotland on Sunday mornings fronted by Ken MacDonald, will be called ‘Crossfire’ and will be hosted by Labour MSP, Kezia Dugdale. If confirmed it would be a incredible appointment for a public body under close scrutiny for bias during such a crucial period.

Our source inside the BBC inside said:

“There is going to be hell to pay – but does the BBC even care? The BBC has become the story – and that is their own fault. Roll on the SBS.”
The Headlines programme had cross-party respect for the avuncular and experienced hosting by Ken MacDonald. The show had innovated in reporting from the more independent blogsphere rather than just from the Unionist-supporting press. Bella was still waiting for a response from BBC Scotland at the time of publishing.
This should be a golden era for news and current  affairs broadcasting in Scotland, with a reverse brain-drain and the world’s focus on our political debate, yet a combination of chronic underfunding, desperate lack of creative imagination and hopelessly partial management has created a crisis.
As Christopher Silver writes in the forthcoming issue of Closer on the subject of under-funding:

There is the obvious £145 million gap between what the BBC raises and spends in Scotland. What’s more, very few Scots will be aware that the nation recently lost out to Wales as the site for a major new film and high end TV studio to be built by Pinewood. This has been met by investment from the Welsh government of up to £30 million. Scotland’s film budget last year was £4 million.

In January this year the BBC Trust found BBC Scotland guilty of having misled the public after a Reporting Scotland item from January 2013 on EU membership post-independence, misrepresented an Irish politician.

The reporter responsible, Raymond Buchanan, resigned from the BBC days before the Trust announced its intention to carry out an investigation.

Writing in today’s Scotsman newspaper Lesley Riddoch has said:

While referendum programmes produced by a mixture of “imported” and seconded staff have been getting lukewarm reviews from viewers and critics, day-to-day spending on BBC Scotland’s “bread and butter” programmes seems to have been cut and morale is at an all-time low.

This industrial relations meltdown is taking place just weeks before the most important democratic, sporting and media moments in Scotland for hundreds of years. BBC Scotland managers have previously stonewalled critics, refused to appear before Holyrood committees and tried to fob off unions. I suspect that won’t work this time.

Now, with a well documented academic report suggesting heavy bias, public anger and protests likely to build and a vote of no confidence in BBC Scotland management proposed unless Robertson’s dismissal is rescinded within a week, this is the biggest crisis faced by BBC Scotland since Zircon.