2007 - 2021

The News at Six

On the basis of the Forsyth Principle (closely akin to the McColm Principle), i.e. the iron law that “Whatever Michael Forsyth Says the Opposite is True”: we need a Scottish Six. Lord Forsyth has declared that plans for a Scottish Six news bulletin will pave the way for a ‘descent into inward-looking parochialism’, adding that the BBC has a ‘clear duty to all licence payers’.

In other words: the news from a London perspective is (by definition) cosmopolitan and sophisticated. But the news from a Scotland perspective is (by definition) parochial, infantile. Issues of ‘partiality’ are presented, even as James Harding, Head of BBC News, former editor with Rupert Murdoch’s Times and close friend to George Osborne claims his £340,000 salary.

As Kevin McKenna writes: “The reaction to the latest plans for a daily broadcast news hour on BBC Scotland has been depressing in the extreme. The usual right-wing commentators have lined up to excoriate it. Few of these regard Scotland as sufficiently able or mature to achieve anything of note unless it is produced under London supervision. Anyway, it’s all a vile Scottish Nationalist plot to get its sticky Stalinist fingers all over the BBC in Scotland.”

But there’s been a dismal reaction from the nationalists community too, with a sort of morbid nihilism kicking in. GA Ponsonby et als who publishes a blog a day on the very same subject, and others who can’t countenance any change until Liberation Day. As Stuart Campbell wrote: ‘As we noted yesterday, we couldn’t give a monkey’s about a BBC “Scottish Six”.

Which is odd.

Ken Macintosh’s cringe (and paranoia) is truly awful…

… but are we really to believe that nothing can change in our media output until we achieve independence and replace the BBC with a Scottish Broadcast Company? As the Labour Party and the wider unionist movement descend into a sort of manic siege mentality can the residual indy movement not find some unity to back an improved public broadcast? It seems we are projecting forward from current output and giving up on demanding better. That feels like collusion with an under-funded badly produced news content.

If you have any doubts at all about a  ‘descent into inward-looking parochialism’, just switch on Question Time, watch every single news broadcast that contains a homage to the Royal Family, or consider the coverage of the Boat Race and think on the very meaning of parochialism. Part of the process of change is to ‘imagine better’ and to demand better, now.

Support the petition for a Scottish Six here.

Comments (35)

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  1. Sandy says:

    Parochialism = the five minutes every news bulletin spends on the England Cricket team, Cricket being the sport of the ‘elite’.

    1. Chris says:

      Calling cricket “elite” is incredibly parochial. If you’d ever been to a County match or to a test match with an Indian, Pakistani or Carribean team, you’d find working people there, not the elite. #Englandbad is every bit as stupid ad #Snpbad

    2. Graeme Purves says:

      Cricket is not necessarily a sport of the elite. I’m indifferent to it myself, but my grandfather, who was a Selkirk man and left school to work in the mills when he was 14, followed cricket avidly.

  2. squirreltowers says:

    I know its amazing to me how some people think that Scotland can’t produce a news programme once a day, how on earth have they managed on Radio Scotland GMS, or in the papers all these years.

    I would love an end to the endless hours of news coverage on the Doctors strike down south or issues around the Academies/Free schools etc. A wee mention now and then, fine, along with news from around the world but not wall to wall coverage. Stuart Cosgrove’s excellent article on Bella outlined loads of potentially interesting stories a Scottish six could cover.

    Europa manages to cover loads of EU stories just fine. I have every confidence the same could be done by a Scottish Six.

  3. Craig says:

    Could STV not do something similar? ITV News is a waste of time too.

  4. Gordie says:

    I believe in an independent public fund for broadcasting and the arts but why does this have to be the BBC? Will a Scottish 6 have editorial freedom report on International events or will it, in one way or another, be limited to parroting the ‘London Line’ as you term it?

  5. Douglas says:

    We’re so lucky to have Lesley Riddich batting for us…so eloquent and so calm and so wise.

  6. John Mooney says:

    The “Scottish Cringe” in its own inimitable form I give you the “British”Broadcasting Company’s “Northern”branch office based at Pacific Quay, and in particular GMS.and Newsnight “Scotland”they make Uriah Heep seem heroic in their pathetic subservience to their London masters!

  7. Steven Johnson says:

    What utter tosh.
    The BBC provides national UK news to all across the UK then it gives over to local area news at 6.30.
    That provides both the central BBC and regional BBC’s good opportunity to give over two sets of editorial content.
    Yes, some of the UK news is boring, but I find most of the Glasgow and Edinburgh news irrelevant to me.
    Get a grip.
    There’s nothing wrong with the news set up as it stands.

    1. Graeme Purves says:

      What is wrong with it is that, unlike radio output, it provides no Scottish perspective on world affairs.

      Latvia, with a population of only 2.5 million, has two public service television channels broadcasting in Latvian and Russian.

    2. Iain Ross says:

      “What utter tosh.
      The BBC provides national UK news to all across the UK then it gives over to local area news at 6.30.”

      Really? You must be watching a different six o’clock news to me then. When I have the misfortune to tune in I see a news reel dominated by English domestic issues masquerading as ‘national’ news punctuated with some international coverage as viewed through the ‘London’ prism. The latter is borderline acceptable but the former, come on.

      As for what follows, utter crap 90% of the time, but probably just a reflection of the BBC mindset in regard to Scotland and the budget they make available.

    3. John Mooney says:

      Steven, your sad reply clearly encapsulates the pathetic parochial and blinkered attitude with regard to any change in Scottish aspirations in any context by unionist,please come into the 21st. century,the days of kowtowing to our London “Betters” are long gone.The BBC. in its present form is behind the curve with regard to how people receive their news but is too sclerotic and hidebound to the London agenda to even notice how ridiculous it appears at the present time,the classic example being Question Time along with the superannuated presenter!

  8. Douglas Robertson says:

    Think James Robertson’s ‘The news Where You Are’ captures so many of the issues covered by this debate. But are journalists not keen to get such an oppertunity? Is this not what some journalists do? Their voices, with a few notable exceptions, are very, very quiet.

  9. Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh says:

    BBC News control is absolutely central to how the British ‘deep state’ messes with Scottish heads. Forsyth knows that. He might be crazy but he is not insane.

  10. thomaspotter2014 says:

    Fuck anything the BBC ‘produce’ for Scotland.

    1. Graeme Purves says:

      That’s simply a daft comment. The BBC still produces some excellent programmes in Scotland. Lachlan Goudie’s ‘The Story of Scotland’s Art’ was marvelous and ‘Landward’ and ‘Out of Doors’ have been providing very good coverage of land reform issues and the hutting movement, complete with Norwegion comparisons.

      1. Graeme Purves says:


  11. Wul says:

    The way its set up the now, the message is clear: “Here’s London calling, we are in charge, this is the centre of things, here’s what’s important…..now over to your own wee, dafty region for the less important stuff”

    Fuck that! I want to live in a REAL country.

  12. Big Jock says:

    Steven what an idiotic comment.

    The national news regularly covers the English NHS,Education and Police. We have to endure that kind of irrelevant parochialism on a nightly basis. When it comes to sport it’s England with a 10 second mention of the other home nations.

    You say Edin/Glas news is irrelevant to you. The last time I checked we had a Scottish Health Service,Education and,Police. Yet you wish to hear about the English versions with no opt out.

    Do the English hear about our devolved areas on a nightly basis. Or an assault or robbery in Glasgow. You are deliberately missing the point.

    I could argue Glas/Edin are irrelevant to me as a Falkirk dweller? Who is being parochial? We live in Scotland our capital is Edinburgh and biggest city is Glasgow. We want news from these areas as it’s relevant to Scotland. Backed up with news outside Scotland from a Scottish perspective.

    How is the Eu vote being covered on BBC. Does it reflect Scotland’s different attitude and different political outlook? Absolutely not. It’s all about the narrow minded anti foreign debate in London.

    I love when unionists spout guff about parochialism. They are the most narrow minded of all people. They cant see past London on everything.

    No ambition,no pride and sycophantic.

    1. iain taylor says:


  13. Onwards says:

    On paper it’s a common sense idea, but there is a huge amount of doubt as to whether the BBC will be able to do it properly without giving into political pressure from the unionist side.

    We could end up with an even more cringeworthy package, with a format where viewers are switched back and forth between 2 studios – local news from Scotland, and the ‘proper’ UK and international news from London studios and presenters- leaving Scottish staff and audiences feeling like second class citizens that cant even be trusted to deliver a single news show.

    To provide a genuine alternative from all the other London-centric news on TV, the programme needs to be mostly produced and presented from Scotland, whilst using outside reporters elsewhere in the world.

    Any format which persists with the tired old format where the ‘big important news’ can only come from London studios and the ‘lesser news’ from Scotland is a non-starter. That only prolongs the pathetic inwards looking attitude we need to move away from.

    Of course what is really needed is a real BBC Scotland channel – not just limited opt-out shows.

  14. bill fraser says:

    Just a reaction we have come to expect from the likes of Forsyth or McKenna who seemingly seem to hate anything Scottish despite their surnames

    1. David McCann says:

      I think you should re-read Kevin McKenna’s quote again, before you condemn his position.

      1. iain taylor says:

        I read his whole article. Balanced and good.

  15. yesindyref2 says:

    “But there’s been a dismal reaction from the nationalists community too”

    Yes. The reason is that they totally distrust the BBC anyway, so any change is seen to be unimportant. But with £3-5 million, and 60-70 more staff, it’s going to have to provide more coverage of Scottish news, and by it’s very nature would have to be more informative. That in itself renders any inbuilt bias less relevant.

    The UK news from a Scottish perspective would also be less London-based, and we’d get to see more news I’d hope, from Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff, Newcastle.

    All that lessens the importance of London, and that in itself furthers the cause of Indy.

    It’s very similar, by the way, to the reaction to the delivery of the fiscal frameowrk and some more powers, there seems to be very little interest, but it’s a powerful move in the right direction, and reduces the gap to and “risks” of, Indy.

    All or nothing? There is a middle way, and it doesn’t stop or slow the main route.

  16. John Dalrymple says:

    Scotish Six useless without a change in editorial tone and control

    1. I think everyones agreed on that John …

  17. Graeme Purves says:

    Here’s one for Ken in East Ren: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HIHdCJA8f8

  18. Clive Scott says:

    If you have not already done so, please cancel your TV licence today and make a donation to Wings Over Scotland latest crowd funder. A Scottish Six produced by the current staff at Pacific Quay will be the same old unionist propaganda adorned with a thistle and tartan tammy. The BBC is the propaganda unit of the British state and the unashamed enemy of an independent Scotland.

  19. Robert Graham says:

    One thing that always puzzled me regarding the BBC if their headquarters are in Glasgow they during the Independence debates persisted in broadcasting debates from Edinburgh and for some strange reason the audience seemed to exhibit some very peculiar accents I wonder if this so called Scottish six if it ever sees the light of day will continue this trend towards estuary English , so all the Plebs get it ,as this is the language and accent we have all been accustomed to over the brainwashing years .

  20. Ricky D. says:

    i would never watch BBC again they have lost my trust why go back to propaganda and cringe when the internet offers much more.

    Why should we care what the EBC do …. a 1 hour bulliton between 23 hours of UKOK and SNPBAD .

    Never again

    1. Steven Johnson says:

      What rubbish.
      The SNP have successfully moaned their way to making it almost impossible not uber praise them 24/7.
      You freaky nutter nats really need to get some sense of balance in your lives.
      Just because people disagree with your little Scotland xenophobic attitudes doesn’t mean people are critical of you. All us non-nut-nats want is a good positive debate, where everything isn’t dismissed as “scaremongering!!”

  21. Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh says:

    A JOCKANORY TALE from the archives:

    For dubious historical reasons a well-off but domineering husband has legal custody of his wife. However, a legal stipulation is that he must take her out to the local park for half an hour five days a week. He does this dutifully, but keeps a tight grip on her. By and by, the wife begins to complain that half an hour is not nearly enough time to get round the park. And that it can hardly be called “fresh air” anyway, with the unremitting grasp of his big hand on her neck.

    The next legal review comes up. It is the unanimous feeling of the Court that things are fine in principle, though perhaps there is at least SOME merit in the wife’s concern over the restricted length of time in the park. After complex and distended deliberation ‘in camera’ (ie, of course, not ON camera), it is with some hesitation decided to double the duration of the required outing to “One Hour”.

    As they duly set off for their first excursion under the new ruling, the wife gasps “I still can’t breathe properly with your big hand throttling me. And, anyway, why can’t I just run free for the hour and enjoy the park on my own?” The husband sternly replies: “Absolutely out of the question, my dear! For one thing, the Court said NOTHING WHATSOEVER about my hand. For another, if I did ever let you go, you would most certainly simply run off into the byways and tell lies about me to whoever would listen. The way you once did before your medication was started. Remember? We can’t have that, can we?

    All those absurd ideas you had when you were young! About being able to live on your own somewhere! It was all so ridiculous and embarrassing. What squalor you would have ended up in! Just like you were before I met you. Don’t you remember? I saved you from yourself, didn’t I? DIDN’T I? I even MARRIED you and let you live in my own fine house (most of it anyway)! I simply don’t understand your ingratitude! It defeats me! I have given you everything you HAVE! Even my present of that charming little gazebo in the walled garden where you are allowed to go and make a cup of tea for yourself…

    …Really, my dear! What HAS got into you? Why are you behaving like this recently? All this unbecoming ‘rebelliousness’. I suppose it was in your people, whoever they were. We’ll never know. But I still can’t believe you almost managed to abscond. And under my very nose! I do declare that you might well have succeeded but for the admirable vigilance of that BBC ‘Jimmywatch’ programme. Aided of course by the peerless investigative journalism of our British Press…

    I am beginning to think something happened to you during that European trip when I was distracted by a tummy bug. I just knew I shouldn’t have taken you. I’ll bet some babbling Johnny Foreigner triggered old suppressed delusions of grandeur deep in your hyper-imaginative Celtic subconscious. You know, dear, I do think that on my next trip to London I will have a word with the Doctor about possibly increasing your tablet regime.

    …Now, look, here comes Lord and Lady Heilan-Hame of Bonnyweesinecureyabass. We are going to smile and talk nicely to them this time, alright dear?”

    “Ouch! You’re hurting me!”

    “Quiet with your stupid lies you little Scotch trollop! And SMILE!!!”

    CUE CREDITS: A ‘Liftnshift’ BBC in Scotland Production, Glasgow.

  22. C Rober says:

    Ireland , and about 6 other Eu countries all have a population similar to Scotland and seem to be able to manage real local and international news teams.

    Perhaps we could dispense with the sports news , aka 13 mins of whatever celtic and rangers are up to this week , with a Scotland does well in any sport but football chaser segment then Weather. Maybe even move football to two 30 mins a week of its own and just actually fill the news with well news.

    Why not a partnership with Ireland , 50 /50 for content and news , they do seem to have about 5 channels so perhaps that is what Scotland should be looking for/at. Through the footy to fee paying while we are at it , so people can actually be called paid for fans , even if in their own nice and warm seating without the fiver pies and exposure to the elements.

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