Don’t Cringe in My Backyard

scotlands-rorschachStuart Cosgrove destroys the cultural cringe around a Scottish Six.

Ok, in the week that Scotland has shocked international journalism by admitting it doesn’t have a national evening news service, I put forward an argument for greater ambition and proffer the following running order for the Scottish Six:

Flight N478GS

In the week that Barack Obama announces the closure of Guantanamo a special report on the CIA’s secret rendition flights via Prestwick.
Saville in Scotland
The local fallout of a very British scandal
EU Referendum from North East
A special report from Peterhead on how the fisheries industry will shape the way the town votes on Europe.
Bring Us Your Digital Masses
Are tightening UK Immigration Laws Undermining global recruitment within the Dundee games sector
Cold Cases
A set-piece interview with the Lord Advocate on the successes and setbacks of Scotland’s innovative Cold Case Murder Unit
Fans United
Is the Offensive Behaviour Act Buckling Under The Strain of Football Fan Protest – the law in turmoil.
Sports News
Travel and Transport News

Going Viral
Helen Fitzgerald’s novel ‘Viral’ begins with a young woman admitting that she given multiple blow jobs on a package holiday. The modern anxiety of young women being humiliated on the web.
News Update
Paralympian David Smith and his life or death cancer operation.
Exporting Rock
Creative Scotland funds bands to attend the world-renowned SXSW events in Austin Texas. Should governments fund rock music? A special report.
Final Updates

I have only taken a few hours to improvise this sample ‘running order’ with no resources and no communication with my valued colleagues in London. I offer it up for three reasons: I believe Scotland is a country rich in stories, that we deserve the dignity of a dedicated news service and that television news is failing to connect with younger viewers and needs to address its own shortcomings. There is nothing in any of these stories that makes me cringe, nothing that patronises viewers nor would any of these stories in their proposed form be covered on the alternative UK news services from London. Each item has a specific story to tell but each has a bigger underlying question that holds power to account – are we sufficiently aware of what secret services do in our country? Has our anti-sectarian legislation failed? Should we publicly fund rock music? Is online sexualisation a threat to teenage girls and if so how do our special units at Police Scotland in Gartcosh police the web? None of these stories soft-pedal on the SNP or on our national institutions, in fact some of them directly question government policy. All of this is what I consider the stuff of a Scottish Six.

This week has been a new low for our national newspapers. As their declining circulation has once again been exposed to scrutiny, almost every title available on the newsstands queued up to sneer at a dedicated evening news service on the BBC. This was particularly rich when waves of negativity came from newspapers that Scottish edition of London-based papers. They seemed to be saying we can do it but you can’t. Many of the daily newspapers, working from leaked documents accompanied their sneering with fanciful untruths the biggest being that the Scottish Six was evidence of a bully and dictatorial SNP. I know this to be fanciful – and probably malicious – since the idea of a Scottish Six is a long-held aspiration of many people in news journalism in Scotland, and is really a child of the Labour-led devolution process. As far back as 1980, the Scottish Constitutional Convention, which the SNP boycotted saw improved news as a bridge to greater devolution of power. Labour and coalition administrations from 1999 onwards have supported the idea. I have been in the company of Donald Dewar, Jim Wallace, Jack McConnell and Henry McLeish when as First Minster, they all variously espoused the idea of dedicated Scottish nightly news. The Scottish Broadcasting Commission established in 2007, reported to parliament where it was supported by all the main parties and carried recommendations about improved television news coverage. More recently, in the context of BBC Charter Renewal, BBC Scotland’s own management team recommended that the time for a Scottish Six had come. To characterise this thirty year journey as a dastardly plot that Fiona Hyslop hatched over a Bacardi and Coke in a lounge-bar in Linlithgow is fantasy.

It is also truly demeaning since it plays to the current publishing myopia that appears to resent Scotland taking actions for itself. There is a dark irony in all of this. Yes the SNP has been on the front-foot about change at the BBC – because there is a Charter Review process and as the government of Scotland they are now part of it. But the SNP has been an ally too. It is by some distance the political party that has voiced the greatest support for the renewal of the licence fee, whilst many unionists especially at the heart of the Conservative Party, would happily lacerate the BBC. All of which brings us full circle back to the simple idea of a dedicated news service.

I have selected a running order that is crammed full of international stories looking out from Scotland in order to challenge the frequently peddled narcotic that a news service from Scotland will be by nature parochial. Very few of the stories proposed are founded on cross-border grievance, and the withering idea that Scottish news is doomed to moan about Westminster.

Where we currently are with a Scottish Six is in what the television industry calls – the pilot phase. BBC Scotland’s staff are charged with turning round three pilot programmes in a short space of time, all of which will be delivered and viewed by the Director General Lord Hall. I have no problem with this referral up, every pilot I have ever been involved in has been viewed by senior management, marketing teams and in some cases external focus groups. It is the way things work. Although the NUJ has voiced concerns about the turn round times, I am less concerned, new is by its nature fast and furious, and in any case the BBC sits on a veritable goldmine of already existing features, reports and documentaries that can be raided and adapted for the purpose of illustration. Improved resource and expertise may be necessary time to ruminate less so. Once a ‘tone of voice’ is agreed there will be many more pilots before the news programme actually goes live. What I would definitely avoid is the current desk-based micro-studio at BBC Scotland, it is too small, to formal and too associated in the mind of viewers with the current opt-out service. This is a time for bolder alternatives, nor are the issues new, Channel 4, Sky and Channel 5 have all had to de-formalise their news services to try to connect with light viewers.

A huge opportunity is staring Scotland in the face. We have the chance to fix a small crease in our democracy – an hour of news that talks to a country and its place in a complex world. What is needed is urgent, ambitious and innovative action not further navel gazing, or worse still the fudged compromises that so frequently blights the BBC’s internal actions.

But change is a two-way street. Those that pillory the BBC from the perspective of the independence movement have to accept that the grievances left behind in the wake of the referendum now need to be laid to rest. We are living in a time when Scotland needs to prove itself, not tear itself apart. Compromise does not absolve the BBC of facing up to its shortcomings either, the pace of events in the last few years has wrong footed Pacific Quay and they now need to rediscover their Mojo and more importantly their purpose. It’s time to sweep the egg-shells from their offices and take a bold approach to this current opportunity. If they make the insecure mistake of looking to London for leadership they will fail in their duty to serve Scottish audiences, and those of us that remain committed to the licence fee.

Stuart Cosgrove is a writer and broadcaster. He is the author of ‘Detroit 67’ and the forthcoming ‘Young Soul Rebels’. He presents BBC’s Scotland’s ‘Off the Ball and contributes weekly to BBC Scotland’s’ Media Review Show.

Comments (115)

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  1. Mike Fenwick says:

    And on international events, might we have Foreign Correspondents who are in truth Foreign, I would far rather have reports from a Greek journalist on events in Greece, or a US journalist commenting on Trump, and adopting that outsourcing from Scotland also avoids conflict with the very likely central demands from London for what they may see as their predominant right to the time of BBC journalists abroad.

    Might we also have one section every so often entitled “Right of Reply” – where allegations of bias or error could be aired?

    1. marnie says:

      Best bit of writing on here for a while!

  2. James Coleman says:

    Excellent article, and your running order presents to me a far more interesting and better 6 News than the current boring rubbish which is forced not only on Scotland but the rest of the UK too as National News from BBC London. If you did your running order in a few hours solo venture let us hear no more nonsense about how difficult it would be to fill an hour each night.

    By the way your statement: “Those that pillory the BBC from the perspective of the independence movement have to accept that the grievances left behind in the wake of the referendum now need to be laid to rest.” Agreed but only if a PROPER Scottish 6 actually takes flight.

    I have my doubts.

  3. Phil says:

    If anyone could do it, Stuart C could do it! How many times has this household rocked to the strains of, ‘why didn’t they mention …. Scottish Local Authorities’ or ‘why is an engineering based round-up of Scottish bridges safety not given’ or … ?

    There is plenty within this nation to report and plenty of intelligent citizens who will welcome worldwide analysis generated from Scotland.

    1. David McCann says:

      Absolutely agree, and Stuart’s contribution on John Beattie show today was excellent, although I am not a big fan of BBC Scotland.

      In the interest of the broader picture, I would add to Stuart’s list, some items from BBC News, perhaps under ‘foreign affairs’ (!!) those items which may be of peripheral interest, which currently dominate the top stories on BBC News, such as the plight of Health and Education in England, especially its impact on devolved Scotland.

  4. Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh says:

    Stuart Cosgrove writes:

    “Labour and coalition administrations from 1999 onwards have supported the idea. I have been in the company of Donald Dewar, Jim Wallace, Jack McConnell and Henry McLeish when as First Minister, they all variously espoused the idea of dedicated Scottish nightly news. …Those that pillory the BBC from the perspective of the independence movement have to accept that the grievances left behind in the wake of the referendum now need to be laid to rest.”
    We all try to move on as best we can, but does airbrushing history help? Misinformation was the problem in the first place –

    “It later emerged that senior Scottish figures in the Labour party had fought against the plan. One of those was Blair McDougall, a Labour party special adviser who would later go on to become campaign director of the anti-independence group Better Together. In November 2007 McDougall sent an internal memo to the then Secretary of State for Scotland Des Browne warning against allowing BBC Scotland to create an evening news programme that would have presented events home and abroad from a Scottish perspective. […]

    Labour party opposition to the ‘Scottish Six’ had been confirmed by former BBC Director General John Birt who admitted in his own memoirs that he “worked hand in glove” with Tony Blair in 1998 to stop the creation of a Scottish Six main evening news bulletin.

    Birt revealed he had made a direct approach to the Labour Prime Minister, Tony Blair, to keep the powerful cohort of Scottish Labour MPs on side. A Scottish Six would “encourage separatist tendencies”, Birt argued. Blair agreed, and asked Peter Mandelson to marshal Labour’s forces; later James Purnell, then an adviser at No 10, and now the BBC’s director of strategy and digital, took on the task.

    In ‘The Harder Path’, Mr Birt’s memoirs, he claimed that Blair agreed to ‘fight’ against a ‘Scottish Six’ for political reasons – even though the proposal carried broad support in terms of improving the BBC’s output in Scotland, including the support of the Broadcasting Council for Scotland.”

    (‘LONDON CALLING: How the BBC stole the Referendum’, by GA Ponsonby, pp 6,7)

  5. Elaine Fraser says:

    Very interesting and I would like to hear other suggestions for running order . For example, what else could be reported to make a refreshing change from nightly football/sport coverage?

    1. Jean Nisbet says:

      Let me add to the running order:
      – BT Openreach has been hammered today for not delivering – have BT increased the speed of broadband in Scotland?
      – Can Scotland stop the brain-drain of young people trained here but sent home when their studies are over?
      – Football: how can football here avoid the ‘English disease’ of whole teams with no native players?

      I would also love to see a 2-minute segment at the end of each broadcast, along the lines of the TED youtube videos, with local experts talking about local projects: what does Govan FM radio do; what green projects are running in schools; how does Gaelic medium education raise self-confidence among kids; how can you use crowdfunder/38 Degrees to get a local project going, etc.

  6. norrie hunter says:

    I was once interviewed by a Radio Scotland journalist who was reporting on a crowd of folk in a bar to watch the leaders debate. I told him I never watch the BBC for any news as I get too upset at the parochial crap. He was astonished and asked where I got my news. When I told him C4 RT and Al Jazeera he then remarked they were all biased. When I got back on my chair I told him that at least they weren’t biased against Scotland. The guy is a regular contributor on GMS but with his attitude we perhaps need a root and branch clearout of the dead wood currently within the BBC at Pacific Quay

  7. Dave says:

    Imagine the build up to Scottish Elections. A different region every [pick a day of the week] in the weeks running up to the big day, with in-depth bio of each region’s particular historic voting intention, local issues, and so on. The people of Scotland would learn of what’s going on next door, so to speak, rather than be fed the stereotypes via BBC London’s editorial dept.

    As it is, we are getting Trump, Boris (EU), Boris (London), Farage, etc. That video of ‘the news where you are’ is spot on.

    1. Rob Allan says:

      “Imagine the build up to Scottish Elections. A different region every [pick a day of the week] in the weeks running up to the big day, with in-depth bio of each region’s particular historic voting intention, local issues, and so on.”

      Although as a dedicated politics geek I can appreciate the thought behind this, I do feel someone has to question whether people would really watch something that niche. “Here we are in Irvine today having a look at how people in the area are concerned about the local swimming pool” will be on one channel while Donald Trump’s latest assault on the pope/women/minorities will be on the other. I’d like to think we’d watch Irvine, but I just can’t see it.

      I personally think that if there is to be such a thing as the Scottish Six it would have to be just as internationally focused as the existing news – i.e. international/UK/European news just from a Scottish perspective.

      1. Dave says:

        I appreciate that political geekery is what it is (niche, a.k.a. boring), but it would be refreshing to be bored by one’s own locality, rather than a place 500 miles away. Everyone suffers the London Mayoral elections, and only London should have to listen to it all.

  8. George young says:

    Ian Mcwhirter, Stuart Cosgrove,Leslie Riddoch ,Derek Bateman,Peter Bell,Paul Kavanagh,James Kelly, not forgetting Ruth Wishart.Scottish news at six bring it on.

    1. John Bull says:

      As a committed yoon reading Cosgrove’s excellent piece, and actually getting through most of the comments, I got down to George Young and his list of nationalist zealots which he wants to ‘bring on’. Dear God. That, Stuart, is what lies just beneath the surface of any ostensibly sensible case for a Scottish Six. The Scottish Seethe. No thanks bud.

      1. James Coleman says:

        There’s ALWAYS the dead weight of a cringer hanging round our necks; or perhaps you are just an English malcontent.

        1. John Bull says:

          Haha, excellent James. You reveal the worst excesses of rabid nationalism. ‘English’ as purest form of adjectival slur. I’m actually a Scot and a proud one too. I just happen to have voted with the majority in the ref. So who’s the neck, and who’s the cringer in your particular world James?

          1. James Coleman says:

            Apart from in the disturbed minds of YOONATICS, when did ‘English’ become an adjectival slur. And to ask if you are English “reveal(s) the worst excesses of rabid nationalism.”? Only in your rabid Brit Nationalist mind.

            Nice to know you are “proud Scot”. Is there a “but” in there as well?

          2. John Bull says:

            No ‘but’ James. There is an ‘and’ tho. I’m a Proud Scot.
            And you’re a non-too-bright rabid bile-foaming Nat.
            Of course that’s only my opinion.

          3. Jim Fraser says:

            Ah, it must be spring as that’s the first sighting of Proudscottery I’ve seen this year. And from a chap called John Bull, too. Surely that’s worth double points?

      2. Fair point. But are you extrapolating from a comment on our blog that James Kelly would be News Editor? This is daft.

      3. muttley79 says:

        Who are the ‘nationalist zealots’ from that list then? By nationalist I presume you are referring to Scottish nationalists and not British nationalists?

        1. John Bull says:

          You’re one smart hound Muttley. Can see why you got your very own tv show all those years ago.

      4. Gavin Greig says:

        If that were the line-up, that would be tragically one-sided. On the other hand, surely balanced appearances from those people would greatly enrich the debate?

        1. John Bull says:

          It sure would, and as such would of course be valuable in enriching and informing the debate. My concern is that our mans post makes clear that he isn’t looking for an enriched debate, or even an unbiased news in Scotland bulletin – but rather an indyScot RT as someone else described it.
          Why go thru the waste of money in cobbling together a Scottish Six if that is what’s really wanted. Just give Wings his own daily 30 minute rant on the Beeb. Keeps the Rabids happy, and the majority can simply tune out for 30 mins. Everyone wins!

          1. James_Mac says:

            To be fair, Andrew Neil has his own show which was co-hosted with a Labour and Tory MP. Hardly balanced.

            The BBC is clearly an instrument of the state. The British state and the BBC clearly view it as such, which is why we are not getting a TV channel.

            We do not get a TV channel when a whole plethora of oppressed minorities around the world do; from Chechens to Turkish Kurds. The fact is you do not want a Scottish TV channel because you are a Unionist and you’re scared such a channel will ‘destroy the fabric’ of the state or some such crap. That’s fine, you’re lads control Westminster so they can do whatever they want with the BBC. Do not pretend there is some higher democratic, pluralist ideal lurking behind the fairly transparent use of the BBC as a cultural weapon, when it is deployed with all the subtlety than 20th century dictators. It makes you look stupid.

          2. John Bull says:

            Since you’re being fair, let me be fair. The BBC drives me mad on occasion too. Its structural left wing bias, reinforced by each year’s new crop of bright young Guardian readers at the bottom and retiring Labour cabinet ministers or advisors at the top does my head in. But, the Beeb all in all does a pretty fair job.
            IMHO. Of course it all depends what you want from news and current affairs. If you just want a cheerleader to get behind, to express your fears, anxieties, prejudices more eloquently and in an ostensibly more reasonable way, then go right ahead. Give Wings his own show. And stuff it full of nodding heads. Sounds a bit dull, but hey, it takes all sorts.
            I prefer to see my political masters held to account. All of them. Unionst, nationalist, Tory, labour, green, Monster Raving Loony, all of em. Made to squirm till they reveal either the paucity of their thinking, or their basic decency and integrity.
            My own view, is Andrew Neil’s pretty good at that. He’s not the most likeable individual, but he’s bloody good at holding them all to accont. If you disagree, please give me an example of a politico he’s soft pedalled?
            I once has to do some work with BBC Northern Ireland, 20 years ago, not at the height of the Troubles but still very sensitive times. I flew in from Scotland and tried the time honoured technique of asking the taxi driver what he thought of the BBC. “Ah, terrible. Every time, they’re straight down the middle!”
            I suspect that sums it up for many Nats. You’re either with us or agin us. The Beeb pisses me off sometimes but I am just about able to reflect on that each time it happens, and ponder, is it my prejudices that make the Beeb seem out of line.
            But then again, I’m just a yoon 🙂

          3. Jim_McIntyre says:

            To begin with, Neil is best friends with Portillo and Diane Abbott. He is clearly partisan, and was an editor of Tory supporting magazines such as the Scotsman.

            It is silly to claim the BBC has a left-wing bias, and you do so to deflect real criticisms over its output. Even if true, it is beside the point since a great deal of left-wing opinion does not threaten any British institutions unless you believe homosexuality should stay out of churches. Even then, the church is hardly powerful outside of Northern Ireland.

            The BBC – and Neil for that matter – is insanely patriotic, is never critical of the Queen, our head of state, or Prince William, the appointed heir.

            To go back to the original point. We are getting a Scottish Six as a desperate attempt to hide of the extreme bias. A Scottish Six would be slightly less than General Franco was willing to concede to the Catalans, and probably puts us in a league with slightly mad African despots in terms of how much we are willing to concede to our “autonomous communities”.

          4. John Bull says:

            No worries Jim.
            I’ll put you down for a years subscription to Wings@Six.

          5. Jim_McIntyre says:

            Don’t worry John, I would never be that jaded to expect you to do anything in order for me to access Wings over Scotland.

            I’ll continue paying for your subscription to Andrew Neil or whatever low budget period custome drama set in Victorian England comes next. Clearly, we both know you will enjoy that.

          6. John Bull says:

            Just imagine you’d got your wish for Indy Jim. Boy you’d be in some sh*te now wouldn’t you. But the good news is that, even tho The Sturge was having to make cuts in public spending that would make Swinney’s current Tory-lite austerity mimicry look like euro millions for everyone, you’d have your State broadcaster telling you that all is fine, nothing to worry about, and Wee Eck is confident he can get a pay day loan from Iran so you can pay this month’s bridging loan from the IMF to keep the hospital generators going. And dummies like you are hoping for Indyref2.
            If it wasn’t so sad it would be hysterically funny.
            It’s been quite fun to peer into the asylum of BellaC. I’m off back to the real world now. You know. Conspiracies to plan. Oppressed minorities to keep down.
            Play nice now. Byeeeeeee.

          7. James_MacIntyre says:

            Clearly struck a nerve!

  9. Alastair Wright says:

    In my view the article demonstrates that there is no ‘Scottish’ cringe, but there is a Unionist one.

  10. Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh says:

    Is there any mention of Broadcasting becoming a devolved responsibility?
    No? Then what, girls and boys, should we conclude from that?

    The auld glove-puppet might well be swapped for an impressive marionette with dangly feet, but the same hidden hand will remain in control.

    1. True, all true. But would you suggest we wait for 2,3,4 – however many years?

      1. Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh says:

        The natives are about to be bought off with just enough trinkets to bring a happy smile to their naive faces.

    2. Natalie Solent says:

      Feargas MacFhionnlaigh writes, “Is there any mention of Broadcasting becoming a devolved responsibility?
      No? Then what, girls and boys, should we conclude from that?”

      That State-owned broadcasters, like all State-owned institutions, tend to concentrate power in the hands of the State.

      1. John Bull says:

        Desperately scanning the above for an ironic punchline, but nope. You don’t see any irony in describing the BBC as an instrument of the State (Westmonster I assume) yet you eagerly anticipate a free and fair unbiased unhindered Scottish BC which would somehow be free of interference/control from The Sturge?

        1. Natalie Solent says:

          John Bull, I’m genuinely unsure whether your comment is addressed to me or to Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh. So I have composed a reply that will do for either case: a state broadcaster will inevitably frame the debate in a way set by the elite class of that state. The elite class is a more stable and long-lived body than the political party temporarily in power; for example most of the people who run the BBC are much to the left of the Conservative Party. But the point remains: he who pays the piper calls the tune.

          Hence those Scottish Nationalists who eagerly anticipate a Scottish Broadcasting Corporation that would not be biased towards the interests the ruling class of a future independent Scotland are deluding themselves. Others are not deluding themselves; that broadcasting and other media outlets should be owned by what they anticipate will be their state and permit only approved views is what they want. For instance here at Bella Caledonia an article by Robin McAlpine with the Orwellian title Real Freedom Sounds Like Many Voices which cheerfully advocated that newspaper “titles other than the [state] franchised ones would be banned attracted scarcely a word of demurral.

          1. Natalie Solent says:

            Apologies for accidentally leaving off the end quotes after the word “banned” in my last comment. Robin McAlpine’s whole post is worth a read as it covers similar issues to this current article by Stuart Cosgrove and is an interesting reminder of what this blog was saying before the independence movement had turned against the BBC and vice versa. (Why were you surprised at that, guys?) It is also an example of someone advocating a Gramscian hegemonic discourse without irony.

  11. muttley79 says:

    Good article. I am bemused that some people in Scotland think that we are incapable of producing our own hourly news programme. Bemused but not surprised alas. The depth of the cringe some in Scotland have for the nation was revealed all too acutely during the referendum. I think the truth is though that once this programme is up and running, it will soon establish itself, provided of course that the resources and talent are made available to it.

  12. tartanfever says:

    This is wishful thinking.

    Anyone can put together a ‘running order’ of interesting stories, thats not the problem. The problem is how those stories are told and which voices we hear from. There is no detail here, and like Reporting Scotland, Cosgrove admits:

    ‘I have only taken a few hours to improvise this sample ‘running order’

    What is required is a complete re-evaluation of how news is delivered to us. Do we remain stuck with the ‘2 min maximum story ?’ Do we get stuck with the same ‘experts giving opinion’ ? Do all stories have to have a Scottish connection as all of Cosgrove’s do ? So if Bernie Sanders is elected President of the USA we wouldn’t cover him but Donald Trump we would because he owns a couple of golf courses here in Scotland ?

    Hell, do we even possibly entertain the novel idea that we actually hear a journalist asking a question to someone live on air ? Do we hear reporters telling us that the politician ask the news conference refused to take any questions or that they were pre-vetted ? There’s no detail here and that’s why this article fails.

    I remember attending the Sheffield Documentary festival some years ago and in a session with a well known and respected documentary film maker a senior BBC factual programme producer was stunned that the guests films actually contained him asking the participants questions on camera. The response from the audience, the audible gasp at the sheer naivety of this BBC staffer said it all. The BBC staffer claimed that all BBC documentary programmes had the question asking edited out to make the programme ‘neater’. For those who know TV, work in it or study films will tell you, this is just a preposterous idea.

    In my experience at the BBC, I have to say that this was pretty standard within the rank and file of the organisation.

    Think of a Scottish Six like Jeremy Corbyn. A nice idea in theory, but in practice, like Corbyn is impotent within the Labour Party because the PLP and all the decision making committees are all still Blairites, BBC Scotland will only ever produce a rank news programme because of their management. Nothing will change.

    1. James Coleman says:

      Some Scots NEVER seem to have anything good to say about themselves. All I hear is constant negativity. We cannae, we cannae, we cannae. It’s time for a bit of we can, we can, we will. Thank God our SNP politicians are not of that breed,

      1. tartanfever says:

        Christ almighty, another epic comment. I didn’t say Scotland couldn’t do it, I said BBC Scotland couldn’t do it. Note the difference or keep of the bevvy when your online !

        What is it with people that just moan about the ‘Scottish Cringe’ and use it as an excuse for everything ?

        Let me ask you this James Coleman, do you want a Scottish Six that is just an extra half hour of the same pish that is currently delivered on Reporting Scotland ?

        Cause if you do, then I’d love to know how that’s supposed to improve TV journalism ? Or maybe it isn’t meant to. Maybe in your world it’s alright that we still produce pish but at least we can call it our own pish. Is that the end goal of your fervent nationalist pipe dream ? – serve up the same shitty dish but with more of an accent, what a thrilling goal.

        In some ways you’re right however. I ardently disbelieve and indeed get angry when I hear the phrase ‘too wee, too poor, too stupid’ and always have done, except for news delivery by the BBC where we really are all of those things. Not because of individuals, but because of who the BBC is.

        If you want to change news journalism you have to change it – just changing where a news programme is produced within the BBC (London or Scotland ) is not a solution.

        1. James Coleman says:

          I suppose insults are your coin of the realm when you don’t like a comment against you. If you ACTUALLY READ what others write instead of wrapping yourself up in your own fatalistic little world ywhere everyone but you is out of step you will note that I most certainly do not want the same crap which is dished up to us currently by BBC ‘Scotland’. I want a Scottish6 along the lines suggested by the writer of this blog and I do not believe for one minute that Scots are incapable of producing it.

  13. Stef McG says:

    Good variety of interesting topical stories there, agree we havediverse stories to be covered by our nation, and a practical outlook on global events and the subsequent impact on Scotland would be enlightening each day.
    One thing, I hope it would be a balanced report, I see your item about immigration rules having a negative impact on gaming recruitment in Dundee (which I’m sure it does), I’d also like to see the negative impact immigration has on low skilled workers who are being undercut by new immigrants (I don’t know if this is happening but it’s an example).

    I know it’s almost impossible but I really want a completely neutral unbiased reporting base to watch each day without it being agenda driven for one side or the other. One day a story on negative impact of of immigration rules – on employment, from a moral perspective, the plight of those claiming assum, then the next week a story from another angle about the issues with too much immigration, economic migrants, strain on social services etc.

  14. Andy Borland says:

    Excellent article from Stuart and clear evidence of what could be achieved with a Scottish Six.

    But only if a bold, ambitious & enthusiastic approach to news journalism from BBC Scotland is undertaken or, indeed, permitted.

    What must not be allowed to happen is for the cold Establishment hand of London control to strangle a Scottish Six at birth.

  15. Jim Fraser says:


    BBC Radio Scotland this morning decided to have two media commentators on to discuss the idea of the Scottish Six – as I understand it, an international/national/local news programme produced in Scotland, using the pooled and shared resources off the whole BBC. So they chose Alex Massie, columnist on the right-wing Spectator magazine and, wait for it, Fraser Nelson, editor of the self-same publication.

    Although agreeing with his boss that such a programme might be better able to hold the SNP accountable (I’m sure they meant ‘the Scottish Government’) Alex did have the grace to point out the programme idea has been kicking around for years. Not only that, but it was the modus operandi of the very radio programme on which they were appearing, where BBC foreign correspondents are regularly used to provide depth on world news stories. Why should it be impossible to pull off on the telly?

    In a relatively rare journalist-looks-job-opportunity-gift horse-in-mouth move, the BBC Scotland interviewer’s main angle of questioning seemed to be “isn’t there enough news on in Scotland already?”

    I hope we can look forward to equally well balanced coverage on other subjects. Perhaps Ruth Davidson and George Osbourne discuss Jeremy Corbyn’s first year in charge of the Labour party?

    On a serious note, 97% of Scotland’s MPs voted against the Syrian bombing campaign. Research suggests 65% of Scottish electors want to stay in the EU. And we only have one Tory MP. Don’t these things suggest we might deserve some news programming which reflects our differing perspectives on international and national events?

    1. jb40 says:

      Yes indeed, but a pity Shetland omitted from the map. Just like The National in its first issue. Or is Shetland opting for a Shetland 6?

        1. jb40 says:

          Map, graphic, innovative artwork? Maybe just admit and correct an all-too-common failing across the media, BC included?

          1. It’s a Rorschach inkblot Scotland. Why would it attempt to be geographically accurate? That’s not its function. You want me to correct it? Do you want me to contact the artist who created it and suggest they change it?

          2. Wul says:

            I can see that it must be annoying and perhaps insulting for Shetlanders to continually have their islands omitted from illustrations. However, I reckon it has more to do with composition than bias.

            If you try to include Shetland in its correct place, the whole image needs to reduced in size, and thus impact.

  16. john murray says:

    As ever Stuart has nailed it,boldly going where few in the pay of the beeb dare to go.I would love for him to be the driving force behind any Scottish Six,God knows ,it’s been mooted for long enough and only now,with the charter renewal on the horizon,does it become a live issue.There exists a unionist cabal within Pacific Quay,cronyism and nepotism seem to be the norm.Let’s dump the lot of them starting with Jackie Bird!

  17. Anagach says:

    The Scottish Six as envisaged by the BBC is to “shape the day’s news in a way relevant to Scottish audiences”. It is the News from London’s view altered slightly to be “relevant to Scottish audiences”. It is not the News, national, local, international, created, edited and from the viewpoint of people living in Scotland. A News program that would be worth watching if you were in England, or France or Spain and say that is the view of the World’s News from Scotland.

    Now I am all for the News coming from Scotland, from a decent well funded and well staffed outfit, producing programs that are so general and well done that they are good viewing no matter where in the world you are.

    I suspect that the BBC has no intention at all of allowing that to happen.

  18. tarisgal says:

    Some interesting points but the article still fails to address many of the arguments and reasons that saw BBC news viewers to go elsewhere for their news. For example?

    1) The language used seems very patronising and in fact quite inflammatory considering the writer is trying to persuade a large portion of a nation to return to its news programs. “… But change is a two way street. Those that pillory the BBC from the perspective of the independence movement have to accept that the grievances left behind in the wake of the referendum now need to be laid to rest.” Is using that old unionist chestnut word ‘grievances’ in this context really the best way to convince half the population of Scotland to return to the BBC while paying to have their valid reasons for leaving, addressed as ‘grievances’? The tone is not very conciliatory but rather “it’s all the fault of the independence movement’. I don’t know how to break it to you – I DON’T actually have to accept” that my reasons for leaving the BBC have to be “put to rest”. Quite frankly, that attack isn’t working for me.

    It seems to me that if the BBC has been ‘pilloried’ by anyone, it was/is likely for a reason or reasons. Perhaps it would behoove the BBC to work out what those criticisms were/are, to address them and actually offer something constructive to show that valid reasons and criticisms are being considered, determined if they are fair arguments and if so, apologise for not getting it right and perhaps suggest ways to overcome them. (Apologies are ALWAYS good when you are trying to encourage someone to come back to you, dont’cha know). The fact is, if those reasons and arguments aren’t dealt with, potential viewers will continue to stay away. This whole article sounds suspiciously like the Treasury negotiating with Scotgov over the Scotland Bill – ‘You’ll get what we give you and like it’. It seems Mr Cosgrove wants half of Scotland to put those ‘trivial reasons’ (what his definition of ‘grievances’ seems to be), behind them and get on with watching Ms Bird. I tell you now, that attitude will get the same as the Treasury got – short shrift. Half of Scotland has found other news sources that they respect. They won’t be wooed back by being told their valid criticisms and complaints have to be ‘laid to rest’ without being dealt with. They DON’T need to come back, Mr Cosgrove. Time to remember that…. It isn’t rocket science…

    2) The problem that half of Scotland has with the BBC seems to have been swept right under the carpet. It seems Mr Cosgrove doesn’t want to bring the word ‘biased’ out into the light of day, examine it and make clear that they will do their best to change that perception. It’s one of the worst problems of the current news output and it does no favours to anyone to ignore it and pretend that this wonderful new news format will make all the difference. It won’t if it’s still being given the same WM slant that current news formats represent. And until that is clear, there are a great many people who will look at that proposed news format and feel it’s just Scotland 2016 at 6 o’clock… Not working, not working, not working…

    3) If this bright new BBC News format gives Scotland exactly what she wants, why not devolve it? Why should devolved TV media put such a fear into the BBC? If given the chance to do it Scotland’s way, It’s very likely many of the present problems wouldn’t exist. For me, the tone of this whole article has been nothing but a bright light shining in our eyes, but trying to blind us to the fact that London will still be running things and London will still have final say on decisions and choices that Scotland wants to make.

    Sorry. I’m fine where I am, news-wise. This bright, scintillating, wonderful, Scottish – but London run news junket, doesn’t work for me.

  19. Mojo14 says:

    In a spirit of hope I have this week reinstated my BT TV contract and bought a TV licence 18 months after I cancelled it in disgust and gave up on uk imperial tv after Indyref .
    This is also a pilot.

    I note that quality of news output on every channel (especially Sky) has got much worse in my absence , apart from channel 4 news which still tries it’s best to do real journalism , plus the bonus of John Snow singing a duet with Catherine Tate on my first nights viewing .

    Great article Stuart . Let’s hope that an engaged Scottish audience makes damn sure that a Scottish Six fully reflects current issues important to the people of this nation and its place in Europe and the wider world, and also reflects and makes proper use of the considerable Scottish talent and skills developed in our world class education system. Current tokenism re how our licence fee is spent in Scotland is an insult and has to change

    1. Clive Scott says:

      Very disappointed to read you have reinstated funding the enemy of Scotland. Please reconsider. You can keep tabs on the propaganda via BBC iPlayer without paying the licence fee. The only obligation to pay the licence is if you watch live TV.

      1. CMac says:

        “enemy of Scotland”

        Cretinous nonsense that damages the SNP and the Yes movement by association.

  20. NotA HighHeidyin says:

    A whole hour!?!

    How about half an hour of Reporting Jockland and half an hour of Call Kaye.

    If that’s not balanced enough, it could finish with a high heidyin from the Orange Order and Malcolm Rifkind’s boy telling us what’s what. Top that off with Lillibullero for the closing theme and we’re done.

    It’s not like they haven’t done all that before, so they should be quite good at it…

    Don’t you think?

    1. NotA HighHeidyin says:

      Hopefully the /s was obvious.

      From their output, the staff at Pacific Quay seem to inhabit a smug, self-serving, self-congratulatory bubble that won’t be burst by giving them an extra half hour.

      Until broadcasting is devolved, I’m afraid nothing will stop them feeding us the same old cereal and expecting us to shut up and eat it.

  21. I Clark says:

    “Those that pillory the BBC from the perspective of the independence movement have to accept that the grievances left behind in the wake of the referendum now need to be laid to rest.”

    Almost half of the electorate want to be free of UK rule. One of the biggest obstacles to independence is the continuous stream of unionist propaganda put out by the state broadcaster. Its so called journalists and management are a disgrace and should be continually reminded of the contempt with which large numbers of people view them. Until we achieve independence, the BBC is the enemy. We need to open people’s eyes – especially those of older voters – to its sins of omission and commission. What we do not need is irrelevant distractions like a Unionist controlled ‘Scottish Six’.

    Perhaps, after independence, talks can take place about converting Pravda on the Clyde to a proper broadcaster which serves the needs of people in this country. Until then, ignore dangerous, collaborationist nonsense like this from Mr. Cosgrove.

    1. Doubting Thomas says:

      More than half voted no to independence.

      1. I Clark says:

        A minority is not a majority? Who’d have thought it?

        1. Doubting Thomas says:

          You obviously don’t!

          1. I Clark says:

            Read my original comment. It is clear from what I wrote and the context that it was directed to the minority who voted Yes. Therefore any comments about the majority are irrelevant. Now, had you criticised my opinions about, say, the BBC that would have been a different matter. But you didn’t. As such your first comment was trivially true and irrelevant (or you were trolling) and your second comment is embarrassing (or again you are trolling). Whatever way I look at things your comments do not justify me spending any more time replying to you.

  22. Andrew says:

    Good piece.
    One observation. The job of a news programme is to inform people about the world around them and hold people in power to account.
    In this context, I am not sure the idea of ‘international news from a Scottish perspective’ is helpful.
    There may not be a ‘Scottish perspective’ on the plight of refugees held up at the border between Greece and Macedonia, or what it’s like living under barrel bombs in Syria.
    Or even the U.S. primaries and the race for the White House.
    These are important stories that need to be told in their own terms.
    I’d like to see news from Scotland that is intelligent and outward looking — and doesn’t seek to put a kilt on every story.

  23. Douglas says:

    List of regional/national FULLY AUTONOMOUS TV stations in Spain:

    1) Andalucia 4 channels: Canal Sur / Canal Sur 2 / Andalucia TV / EHS
    2) Aragon 2 channels: Aragon TV / Aragon 2 HD
    3) Principality of Asturias: 3 channels
    4) Balearic Islands: 5 channels
    5) Canary Islands: 2 channels
    6) Cantabria: 1 channel
    7) Catalonia: 4 public channels / 4 private channels
    8) Galicia 3 channels

    …I could go on, but if anybody wants to see the full list, here it is:

    The situation in the UK is absolutely appalling, and the centralisation of television in London, in the hands of the UNBEARABLE BBC is an anomaly. The BBC is an invaluable ally of the people who run UK PLC.

    Anything short of devolving broadcasting to Holyrood is simply unacceptable. Who the hell is this Lord Hall guy to determine what TV is offered in Scotland? And who the hell are the BBC to charge people for simply owning a TV apparatus?

    We need full devolution of broadcasting rights to Scotland, in line with Germany and Spain, and we need an end to the license fee, which can be collected from local taxes. TV screens are use for all kinds of things, and the BBC, as is obvious from their dismal output, is a relic from a bygone age…

  24. Douglas says:

    Isn’t it funny that the same ruthless free-marketeers, who are unflinchingly unsentimental about lives destroyed by homelessness and poverty, suddenly get all dewy-eyed about Auntie.., and how the BBC is an integral part of “British life”…ie, a certain kind of conformist old ladies on bikes and warm beer, England, England, cricket in the evening version of Britain life?

    What in God’s name does that mentality have to do with most people who live in Scotland? How does the BBC reflect the make-up of Scottish life? It doesn’t.

    The BBC is a patrician, biased, anti-intellectual, rigidly hierarchical – the Saville fiasco demonstrates it all too well – establishment sinecure run by the toffs and in every way as outdated as the House of Lords, a State monopoly on information and opinion. It is anti-democratic and out of touch.

    The only reason it exists is because it has served the spivs that run the UK so well, particularly when fighting a) illegal foreign wars, b) class wars (the miners strike) and c) the unity of the UK (Northern Ireland and 18S).

    The sooner we get rid of it the better, and I really wonder if a legal challenge might not be made to some Higher Court about the license fee. Or just about the intermittent appearance of Nicholas Witchell on our screens, or the unbearable Simon Schama….

    I would leave the house on a rainy night rather than be patronised to death by a BBC bulletin.

    By the way, where does BBC Scotland find these insipid, fresh-faced, bland, peely-wally male news readers with the kind personality indistinguishable from an office plant? It’s like there is a factory somewhere where they produce these automatons, who could announce a nuclear strike with the same bland tone that they talk of a cat being stuck up a tree…

    Scrap the BBC…nothing less will do….I can’t take even five minutes more of it…

    1. Natalie Solent says:

      Douglas writes, “Isn’t it funny that the same ruthless free-marketeers, who are unflinchingly unsentimental about lives destroyed by homelessness and poverty, suddenly get all dewy-eyed about Auntie.., and how the BBC is an integral part of “British life”…”

      This ruthless free-marketeer and Unionist would happily see the BBC ditched and Broadcasting House, Pacific Quay and the rest of them sown with salt. I might or might not include the old videotapes of Life on Earth in the damnatio memoriae depending on their resale value.

      I have to say, though, that national broadcasters in lots of countries used to play or still do play their national anthems last thing at night. I don’t think RTE in Ireland still do this, but here are some nostalgic clips of several versions of Amhrán na bhFiann / The Soldiers’ Song as presented by RTE up until the 90’s: link

      1. Douglas says:

        Hi Natalie,

        Thatcher was a crazed freemarketeer, so is Blair, but they came nowhere near to privatizing the BBC, because they quickly understood how powerful it is as a British propaganda tool…it was pivotal in selling the illegal war in Iraq to the British public, it was pivotal in the Falklands War, and it was pivotal in the miners strike, where news information was deliberately distorted to create a false impression, not to mention Northern Ireland.

        In terms of 18S, if it wasn’t for the BBC, I think that we would have won the referendum.

        Now, it goes without saying that private TV stations are equally or even more pro status quo, but at least we are not obliged to pay for them.

        The BBC should be broken up, and the role of the State in terms of broadcasting should be to award broadcasting licenses, and possibly in some cases, some public funding to a ensure a wide and diverse range of democratic political tendencies, as it should do to in the printed press too.

        We are living under the tyranny of the minority, a minority of public school Little Englanders who in no way reflect the diversity of the UK, much less Scotland.

        It’s a disgrace and, as a film and TV professional forced to live outwith Scotland to be able to work, the gorge rises at it…the SNP have let us down for eight years, it is an absolute scandal, and that the Scots to continue to pay their license fee, a total mystery to me…

      2. Douglas says:


        Forgot to mention…the difference between the Irish Public Broadcaster and the BBC is that Ireland NEVER conquered any country…Ireland is not an imperialistic nation…Britain is a nation with a very long history of imperalism, to this day, and the BBC is one of the main weapons in its armoury…

        And the Irish broadcaster does not offer a “World Service”….think about that expression, world service…who but a few hundred upper class public schoolboys with an inculcated superiority complex have the sheer nerve to offer a “world service”….the arrogance behind the whole idea is breathtaking…. you might have an international news bulletin – they have that in most countries – but a “world service”, well that says all you need to know about the self-inflated self-importance of the people who run the BBC…they describe the BBC World Service as “the voice of the world”…

        …there’s modesty for you.

        1. Deedee Cuddihy says:

          The World Service is excellent (what’s left of it). I think the “World” bit refers to the fact that it broadcasts features from around the world.

          1. Douglas says:

            The World Service is imperialistic drivel for the most part…Tim Franks? Are you going to defend people like Tim Franks?

            Anybody who actually takes the trouble to learn foreign languages knows that The World Service is a hall of mirrors, in which people are – generally – selected to express imperial England’s point of view.

            Yo hablo español, falo portugues, parlo el catalá, parlo italiano, ich kann wenig Deutsche…I don’t need to be patronised by a bunch of Etonian monoglots…

  25. Douglas says:

    The BBC is also IMPERIALISTIC….it is a neo-colonial propaganda tool of the insufferable British ruling class, or upper class….young people won’t know this but – completely bizarre as it sounds – they used to play GOD SAVE THE QUEEN when the evening’s programming ended….am I right or am I right people over 40? In the 70’s and 80’s I mean, maybe even into the 90’s…

    You would sit there and watch whatever, some repeat obviously, maybe, if you were lucky, you had just come home from the pub – the senses dulled – and then they would subject you to GOD SAVE THE QUEEN…BORN TO RULE OVER US etc etc…I mean how can anybody take a broadcaster seriously which plays the friggin national anthem every single night of the year and in the same breath claims to be “independent”?

    …I think they have done away with that now, but exactly the same mentality is at work now as it was then. Ask yourselves, how many lives have been scarred, how many personalities irreparably perverted and damaged, how many political opinions and worldviews corrupted by the inane imperialistic ramblings of the upper class twits who run the BBC?

    Lord Hall? WHO THE HELL IS HE to determine what TV progamming is available in Scotland???

    Neo-colonial, imperialistic, colonizing BOMBASTIC DRIVEL is how I would describe the BBC output…which seeks to quell discontent among the proles by reminding them – at every opportunity – that no matter how shitty their lives are, at least they can proudly say they are British…and hence better than everybody else on planet earth…

  26. James_Mac says:

    The Scottish Six is a joke. We should have our own channel, not a crappy news programme once a day.

    Countries we consider autocratic as well as democratic countries across the world provide several channels for minority autonomous regions. We are sitting here pretending that a ‘Scottish Six’ is an acceptable compromise. Let us be clear about this. Turkey funds a Kurdish tv channel, and the BBC can’t bear to provide Scots with their own TV channel.

    Just because those right-wing loons who benefit greatly from our biased and substandard media landscape are too stupid to see that doees not mean we should pretend the Scottish Six is anything other than a pathetic sop by a bunch of short-sighted American-style republicans, who are terrified of democracy.

  27. Douglas says:

    The gradualists will be happy with a Scottish news programme, but it is a palliative…crumbs from the table…and it should be rejected as an insult, a token or a bribe handed down from the patrician hand of BBC London – I don’t why they don’t just change the name to the London Broadcasting Corporation – where is the democratic accountability for the license payer in Scotland?

    Why does the license payer in Scotland not have the same rights as the license payer in England, the latter for whom the vast majority of programming is tailored?

    Why do so many Scottish film and television technicians and writers and directors have to live outwith Scotland to work? The vast majority of us?

    Why are we in this ridiculous situation, which has no equivalent anywhere in Europe I know of?

    Why can the SNP not DO SOMETHING and make a stand on, at least, full devolution of broadcasting rights to Scotland? Walk out of Westminster, resign your seats and call a by-election…DO SOMETHING….!!!

    The broadcasting situation is a slight on Scotland and I understand that Stuart works for the BBC and so has to pull his punches, but a news bulletin is nowhere near enough….and Stuart’s article focuses on the wrong issues, it doesn’t address the main problem….

    1. James sinclair says:

      Well said Douglas. The BBC is a cancer that Scotland needs to eradicate.

    2. muttley79 says:

      Why can the SNP not DO SOMETHING and make a stand on, at least, full devolution of broadcasting rights to Scotland? Walk out of Westminster, resign your seats and call a by-election…DO SOMETHING….!!!

      Scotland will not get full broadcasting rights until we get over a 50 per cent Yes vote in an independence referendum. That should patently obvious to everyone. I like it how it the SNP’s fault and responsibility, and not some of those who even resisted the establishment of a devolved Scottish parliament. The SNP MPs have a disciplined job to do down at Westminster, you are essentially arguing for pointless student politics gestures. The British state would love nothing better than for the SNP MPs to do something as stupid as to resign their seats over broadcasting. Do you seriously think that would make the British establishment give Holyrood full broadcasting powers in these circumstances? Of course they would not, they would be to busy laughing.

      1. Douglas says:

        Mutttley, I earned less than the personal allowance last year, but if I had a seat in parliament, on 60,000 a year, I would resign it so that Scotland got its fair share of the license fee…

        …would you dae the same?

        1. muttley79 says:

          Douglas, you want the SNP MPs to resign en masse because of one issue, then you make out it is about their earnings. It is not. How could you possibly explain to your constituents that you resigned over not getting full power over broadcasting to Holyrood, when you are clearly never going to achieve that before independence anyway? How would the constituents of SNP MPs react who are affected by cuts to welfare, do you think they would want their elected representative to resign over broadcasting when they are facing acute distress and suffering? It would be a pathetic fiasco for SNP MPs to resign and it would be an absolute shambles. Of course I would not resign if I were an SNP MP over broadcasting, you are there to represent and fight for the interests of your constituents, and Scotland in general.

          1. Douglas says:

            Muttley, enough of yer naval gazing bull…the Sinn Fein didn’t take their seat in the London parliament, and if we all voted for the SNP, that is because we expect them to do something – let’s call it extra-parliamentary – that would make a difference…and from my own point of view, this issue, the broadcasting issue, is as big as any I can see…

            …Podemos Euro MP’s are paid 3500 Euros a month and are obliged by the Movement to hand back almost half of that figure to social causes. What’s up wi your pals in the SNP that they can’t do the same? Maybe they want to have afternoon tea in some ridiculous Embra art gallery, Muttley, eh? hee hee…”we’re Scottish and we’re prrrrrroud of it” as Miss Jean Brodie would say…and that’s enough for the careerists that you lend your quite insistent pen to…

          2. muttley79 says:

            This is not meant as a reply to myself but it was the nearest reply button.

            Muttley, enough of yer naval gazing bull…the Sinn Fein didn’t take their seat in the London parliament, and if we all voted for the SNP, that is because we expect them to do something – let’s call it extra-parliamentary – that would make a difference…and from my own point of view, this issue, the broadcasting issue, is as big as any I can see…

            …Podemos Euro MP’s are paid 3500 Euros a month and are obliged by the Movement to hand back almost half of that figure to social causes. What’s up wi your pals in the SNP that they can’t do the same? Maybe they want to have afternoon tea in some ridiculous Embra art gallery, Muttley, eh? hee hee…”we’re Scottish and we’re prrrrrroud of it” as Miss Jean Brodie would say…and that’s enough for the careerists that you lend your quite insistent pen to…

            So you are moving on Douglas from saying all the SNP MPs should resign over broadcasting, to suggesting they be more like Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Provisional IRA….

  28. Craig P says:

    “Compromise does not absolve the BBC of facing up to its shortcomings either, the pace of events in the last few years has wrong footed Pacific Quay and they now need to rediscover their Mojo and more importantly their purpose.”

    Good luck with that one Stuart. The BBC have lost my trust. Nothing short of the devolution of broadcasting will change that (and then of course we might just swap British propaganda with Scottish…!)

    If we did get a Scottish Six I would like it to have as much international news from *different* viewpoints as possible. Eorpa was a good example of the sort of in-depth foreign reporting we *never* get in the news. I’d also like to see less on subjects that have little bearing in Scotland such as the English health service and exam results, Premiership football, London mayor elections, etc. that we get at present.

  29. macart763 says:

    I agree, its exactly what we need and there is plenty of talent and know how to hand. How and ever whilst the competence is reserved and the current management remain in place?

    I don’t think many would believe a new leaf had been turned.

  30. Alf Baird says:

    Wid be braw if Jackie an Sally an aw ither preesenters cuid spik in Scots language an aw fir a chynge, ken like maist fowk dae in Scotland. Its oor Mither tongue efter aw! A Scots Language Channel is whits needed, no a BBC London tweakin o’ the brainch offeec news slot. Aw thon needs is a Scots Language (Scotland) Act, juist like thon ‘Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005’ thit Holyrood uised tae create the BBC Alba station. Scots fowk coud then chuise whit channel tae leuk at, i.e.: (1) ‘Scots Language Channel’, or (2) ‘BBC London Brainch Offeec (UK Propaganda) Channel’. A ken whit a wid dae.

  31. James Coleman says:

    To John Bull
    “And you’re a non-too-bright rabid bile-foaming Nat. Of course that’s only my opinion.”

    And like all YOONATIC opinions it is wrong. The proof being I can spell ‘none’ and you can’t, and that a quick perusal shows you have produced most of the “rabid bile-foaming” (whatever that might be) on this site. If I were you I would learn to write English properly before venturing into commenting on grown up matters.

  32. John Mooney says:

    GMS.Massie and Nelson debating a Scottish Six! You could not make it up! BBC “Scotland”Yir having a laugh!

      1. John Mooney says:

        It was yesterday on GMS,the whole bloody farrago was beyond parody! Say’s it all really with regard to BBC “Scotland,cheers Bella.

  33. Anton says:

    My problem with Stuart Cosgrove’s article is that for many years he was of course Channel Four’s Head of Nations and Regions, based in Glasgow, and ideally placed to implement a “Scottish Six” on Channel Four, a channel which of course was set up specifically to provide alternative viewpoints to the mainstream BBC.

    So why didn’t he? Or maybe he argued the point internally at Channel Four, but they refused? On these points he is strangely silent, preferring instead to criticise the BBC rather than explain his own record on the issue.

    I agree with him that there’s a “huge opportunity…staring Scotland in the face”. Unfortunately it’s an opportunity he overlooked when he was actually in a position to do something about it.

    1. Jim Fraser says:

      Interesting point, Anton.

      But wasn’t Channel 4’s operation in Scotland a tiny one?

      I mean their own Channel 4 News is often very good, but it is produced for them by ITN, isn’t it?

      You might be being a little unfair to Stuart Cosgrove.

      1. Anton says:

        “Channel 4 News is often very good, but it is produced for them by ITN, isn’t it?”

        Channel Four does indeed commission its news programmes from ITN. So it would be an easy matter for Channel Four to commission a Scottish Six from the same source.

        “Wasn’t Channel 4’s operation in Scotland a tiny one?” Yes – that’s exactly my point. Channel Four was set up specifically to provide an alternative to the existing mainstream channels, so you would have thought that news and programming from and for the Nations and Regions of the UK would be an important strategic priority. But no. Whatever criticisms we may have of the BBC, it spends more in Scotland, produces more in Scotland, and commissions more Scottish producers than Channel Four, which is just as much a public broadcaster as the BBC. The only difference is in the method funding.

        “You might be being a little unfair to Stuart Cosgrove.” Maybe I am. Maybe he spent years of strenuous effort promoting the idea of a Scottish news service within Channel Four, only to be met by constant rejection. But, oddly, he doesn’t say.

        But for the long-time Director of Nations and Regions for Channel Four to write an article criticising the BBC’s record in Scotland without mentioning C4’s apparent and far more egregious lack of action strikes me as, well, let’s call it “special pleading”.

        1. Jim Fraser says:

          Thanks for your reply, Anton.

          I suspect the rather grand title of Channel 4 Director of Nations and Regions rather flatters to deceive. Not in a bad way, but possibly more show than go (“we want Stuart to work for us, what will we call his post, he wants to be in Scotland a fair bit?”)

          But you’re quite right, you might have thought he would have made some reference to his time there if he thought it relevant.

          I suspect he doesn’t think it is because Channel 4 (which is commercially-funded, not licence fee funded, despite being publicly-owned) would just never have made the news specifically for Scotland, because the advertising market simply wouldn’t justify the cost. (Maybe also the reason STV wouldn’t invest in an hour long international Scottish Six, using the ITN network of correspondents? Although I hear tell there are changes afoot on the manning of the STV newsroom right now, so who knows.)

          Maybe if Stuart reads our comments (and I’m sure he does) he might jump in and let us know how it all works?

          Anyway, he did a good thing coming on to Bella to get the conversation started this time, don’t you think?

          1. TheBabelFish says:

            Actually I think if the Australian example is anything to go by, you’d find that if the BBC took the lead, STV would be obliged to follow. Australia has five national networks, the ABC (BBC equivalent), SBS (like Ch 4 in that it’s publicly owned, also has ads, but it’s a specifically designated multicultural service) and three commercial networks. SBS produces a national main bulletin, very international-heavy, due to its role. The ABC, as I mentioned in an earlier comment, runs state-based main bulletins in all states, and as a result all the commercial networks are obliged to do the same, as that’s what’s wanted. As for the size of the markets Victoria, where I’ve lived, has roughly the same population as Scotland, New South Wales is a bit bigger, and all the others are smaller.

  34. DB1 says:

    What amazes me is the unionist opposition to one international news show from Scotland.
    As mentioned above, we don’t have a real BBC Scotland channel. Viewers have a huge choice of UK news programmes including rolling 24 hour news from the BBC and Sky.

    And they are freaking out about a single Scottish news show. It’s pathetic.

    Especially because the BBC will be under pressure to ‘fix’ it so that it ends up in a format much the same as before, where we go over to the London studios and the London presenters for all the big important world news, then back to Jackie in Glasgow for the latest local court case.

    It could end up twice as cringeworthy if they don’t get it right.

  35. yesindyref2 says:

    A 1 or 2 minute bit of good business news for a change like “Engineer Weir says oil prices will strengthen again, as it reports tumble in profits” (that’s global profits).

    And I’d really like a good half-hour business program at least once a week “business round up” or something like that.

  36. John Higby says:

    Speaking from down here in the deep south of England (Essex), having been drawn to this by Lesley Riddoch’s tweet, I’d have been more impressed with the piece if it weren’t for the spelling errors and misplaced punctuation – no subs at Bella Caledonia ?

    On the substantive issue, there’s no resistance to a Scottish Six from the man in the street down here, go ahead with our blessing. It will complete the news separation of our two nations; because the national newspaper titles produce Scottish editions, then reading, say, the Times down here I don’t normally see much Scottish news and with a Scottish Six many Scots won’t see much English news. Roll on the next referendum, when everything else gets separated.

  37. Derick fae Yell says:

    BBC Pravda is as relevant as starting handles on cars, or telegrams. News from the Raj.

  38. TheBabelFish says:

    I cannot understand why people are seeing this as a problem. Or disingenuously suggesting that it’s a problem. Take a look at the Australian ABC. It was based on the BBC, albeit 60 or 70 years ago. It manages to run state-based main news bulletins, 7 nights a week, covering international, national and state-specific stories. Obviously they share the same foreign correspondents (as well as arrangements with other international sources, like the BBC, Al Jazeera, CNN, Deutche Welle, and numerous others), whilst leaving editorial control with the state newsrooms.

    Incidentally, they also provide a full range of other programming, including some extremely high quality drama. It’s every bit the equal of the BBC in every meaningful respect, and it does this without the need for a license fee*. I still don’t understand that. When I came back to Scotland in 2014, I was incredulous at the cost of a license. You basically have to pay for a whole new TV (without getting one) every year! That simply cannot possibly be necessary! The BBC makes a fortune from selling content around the world, and not just from current material, it’s back catalogue is the most sought-after in the world. They’re minted! They should be paying a dividend, not charging us a fortune.

    *The ABC is funded directly by the Australian Government, at a cost to the taxpayer of between 14 and 15 cents per day, about 7-8p.…/Australian_Broadcasting…

    1. TheBabelFish says:

      Apologies, link didn’t copy properly. Let’s try that again:

  39. Alf Baird says:

    This is what was done to create the Gaelic TV Channel BBC Alba:

    “MG Alba is the operating name of the Gaelic Media Service. The organisation’s remit, under the Communications Act 2003, is to ensure that a wide and diverse range of high quality Gaelic programmes is made available to persons in Scotland. MG Alba formed a partnership with the BBC to broadcast BBC Alba, Scotland’s Gaelic TV channel, which was launched on 19 September 2008.” Public funding for BBC Alba is £20m/year, of which £12m is from Holyrood and £8m from BBC.

    Surely what the majority of Scots need is a Scots Language TV channel, just as the minority Gaelic language community have their specific TV offering. That we don’t yet have a Scots language TV channel is obviously political: once the majority of Scots twig that we do have our own language (and hence our own very distinct way of telling things – i.e. culture), we really will believe we are a nation as well. Put simply, while a Gaelic TV channel was not a significant political risk (to the UK), the reluctance of our masters to give us a Scots Language channel and in turn to forever feed us BBC London instead is intended to ensure the majority of Scots remain as ‘British’ as possible. Which also explains the countless dubious TV programmes that have ‘British’ in their title.

  40. Steve says:

    Does RTE still have the Angelus before the News, which as a consequence starts at 601? Personally I liked it though it probably represented an oppressive theocracy to our equivalents on Bella Hibernia

  41. C Rober says:

    Fishing for a Job MR Cosgrove , perhaps you should come out with an argument for devolving the BBC and the airwaves to Scotland instead ?

    To add insult to injury a Scottish Six is to double the length of propaganda , so thi is now the recommendation? While slipping it under the door as good for the nats? Blindfolds anyone?

    Devolution is the only way forward , combined with partnering with the RUK on major events , a sister service if you will for a brand new SBBC , with a board made up from non luvvies , non politicals or their spouses. A board made up with the likes of jury duty , even better.

    Though I do wish that Holyrood would stop using the whinge factor through its internet sheep and just use the laws it has , and declare the collection of the licence fee unenforceable in Scotland , the longer that Holyrood and the SNP will not use the powers they have , over the powers they dont , is just plain insulting.

    As for a one hour news program I just dont know about it , sounds like a way to cull a few higher paid jobs with centralisation , especially those not aligned with the mindset. And while its under discussion , sport news , well should be a program of its own instead of half the current timeslot.

    I can see this being a short term issue if it is indeed done , a force to be used to attack politicians , the right ones of course that are on the mandated enemy list , depending on whom is in control of SBBC at the time.

    1. Jim Fraser says:

      Sorry for asking, I don’t intend to be churlish, but why do you leave a space before typing a comma in your pieces? I’ve seen a couple of people doing it and wondered whether it is a ‘thing’.

      On your point about propaganda, if the current output of BBC Scotland News isn’t biased towards the SNP/independence (a thought that would have many people chuckling) why do you think a Scottish Six would suddenly become so?

      In fact this might be the only concern many independence-friendly viewers might have with the idea.

      Perhaps I didn’t understand you correctly?


  42. Gary McIlkenny says:

    Well said Mr Cosgrove! I very much enjoy Stuart’s various contributions to Radio Scotland.

    What he suggests is entirely feasible, but I cannot see BBC Scotland producing anything like that. My money would be on a dreary, predictable and/or half-arsed effort. Would scunners Bird and Bradford be involved?

    Thanks anyway Stuart for showing what ought to be done and how it could be achieved. Maybe one day it will.

  43. John Rutherford says:

    Well said Mr Cosgrove. You speak up for my country. More power to ye

  44. Gordon Purvis says:

    The list of proposed themes for the bulletin is interesting. But I would prefer to see more international news. Elections and news from other countries, like neighbouring Ireland. The election there was virtually ignored. The key is not to be parochial.

    1. TheBabelFish says:

      Yes, I had also noticed that it seemed to be a slow news day in the rest of the world. I imagine peace must have broken out in Syria, the US election campaign had decided to have a day off and basically nothing of any interest whatsoever had happened anywhere else.

  45. Gordie says:

    I have no confidence in the BBC. The bias against Scottish Independence is a very small part of that. The organisation is corrupt in many many ways and the 2003 communications ACT is legalised extortion.

    I want to pay into a fund every month that can be tapped into by artists, TV and film makers and so on and not pay for a corrupt state broadcaster.

    A Scottish six can’t fix it.

  46. Wow says:

    From The Herald*: Jackie Bird** has been tipped to be the anchor of a new BBC “Scottish Six”.

    If the BBC think that Jackie Bird anchoring the Scottish Six is a good idea, then they really, really don’t understand their problems!

    I can only imagine her being as successful anchoring the Six as Jim Murphy was successful leading the Labour Party. Unless, of course, they really do see “success” as feeding us the same news but from a different studio. If that’s the case, then it’s all aboard the Jim Murphy Express. Choo-choo!

    * I know, The Herald!?! I only read MacWhirter.
    ** Full disclosure, I don’t think Jackie Bird is particularly capable and I think the bias that she has shown in the past is a symptom of that.

  47. Sam says:


    Here is another suggestion for your running order. A critique of the 10th Kilbrandon Lecture by Sir Harry Burns. Those participating in the critique might be Sir Harry himself, Professor Sally Mcintyre, Professor Carol Tannahill and Dr Gerry McCartney. There is common ground among all of these good people that poverty is at the root of health inequalities and a number of other problems in Scottish society. Sir Harry believes, as do the others, that the effects of poverty can result in chronic stress bringing about permanently elevated levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. A permanently elevated level of cortisol can have a range of effects. It can cause early stroke and heart attack. it can impair brain development in the young, particularly areas of the brain to do with learning.

    The greatest protectors from poverty are education and employment. Sir Harry believes, I think, that the Early Years strategy of giving children and the young adult the best start in their lives can break the cycles of poverty. the other experts are not convinced. Here is an extract from the Holyrood scoping report on health inequalities.

    “The most striking thing about the evidence that emerged during our early evidence-taking in the scoping exercise was the degree of unanimity regarding the high level causes of health inequalities, such as low income and poverty, economic disadvantage, poor housing, low educational attainment and industrial decline. There was also agreement that some interventions, for example public health messages in relation to risky behaviours such as alcohol abuse, tobacco use, diet and exercise had been shown to have had little or no impact on health inequalities or, indeed, to have exacerbated them.
    21. Dr Gerry McCartney, a consultant on public health and head of the public health observatory team at NHS Health Scotland, told us that there was “fairly good evidence that income, power and wealth inequalities drive health inequalities”. He mentioned that in the UK and US inequalities dramatically reduced between 1920 and the mid-1970s, during a time when income, wealth and power inequalities, as measured by the rise of the welfare state, declined. Later, there was a reverse as income inequalities and wealth inequalities rose.3
    22. Professor Sally McIntyre, director of the institute of health and wellbeing at the University of Glasgow, told us that the three key issues were employment, income and education. She said it was important to note that policies in those “three key domains” would help to reduce social inequalities in relation to health and other things.4
    23. Professor Carol Tannahill told us that we should also think about the changing nature of work. She said that the evidence on work and health inequalities was developed at a time when employment was very different from what it is today. We should be concerned, she said, about “the changing nature of work and the consequence of people being in and out of poor-quality work on short-term contracts for their health, which seems from some recent evidence to be even more detrimental than long-term unemployment”5.”

    Clearly implied in the evidence to the Committee of Dr McCartney, Professors Tannahill and McIntyre is the need for either devo max or independence.

    I can’t see Eleanor Bradford being capable of handling this.

    Why not send all your ideas to the BBC?

  48. arthur thomson says:

    Like most people who express support for independence, I want Scotland to have its own tv channels not a half-hour slot that would effectively be ‘London calling’.

    However, I am glad to see that the media and the BBC are determined to continue to help our cause by making an issue of the ‘Scottish Six’. All power to their elbow because I think it is their latest blunder, arising out of their inability to take seriously the change of mind that is happening in Scotland. They really do think that the Scots are stupid and that they are oh so clever.

    I say this because I think that the tide has turned and the patently obvious propaganda put out by the media is now actually turning people towards independence. For the UK to offer – with a fake show of awareness – an obvious piece of tokenism, is just to compound their error. The SNP, I think, is totally aware of this and is giving them a gentle nudge of encouragement to go ahead and insult the intelligence of the Scottish electorate yet again.

    We all know that a Scottish Six is not going to remotely address the issue of the UK Government cynically controlling and manipulating the flow of information. But a yard will be gained, a few more people will see the need for independence and the sense of invulnerability of the unionists will be undermined a little more.

    As to forgiving and forgetting the role of the BBC in the referendum. I think not. That is exactly how abuse is encouraged to recur. We need to know the BBC, not misplace our trust in it.

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