Scotland 2016

imagesOn first hearing that someone was going to pull the plug on Scotland 2016, I thought, it has been a terrible year, it’s probably for the best. On realising that it was BBC Scotland’s ‘flagship’ news and current affairs programme, I realised it was just the continuation of the broadcasters cycle of: under-invest, produce staid safe bland content, watch it nosedive, repeat.

While Gary Smith, Head of Affairs was putting a spin on it saying: “I want to go for quality instead of quantity, and I think if we can go for a really good weekly programme instead of a nightly programme that is sometimes overstretched, it will create a better offering for the audience”, there have got to be questions asked about the move.

A week is a long time in politics and the revelation that “Social media will be a key area of expansion in the coming months and years” does nothing to dispel the impression of a service playing catch-up with society. This is 2016 and they have had a notion that social media might be the way forward. And the idea that the BBC can’t compete with STV’s Scotland Tonight, which looks as if its run on a budget of about £12.50 is embarrassing.

Broadcaster and journalist Lesley Riddoch responded: “If it’s been axed to fund a Scottish Six that’s perhaps understandable. But how can STV manage what BBC cannot – to produce a popular current affairs programme in the shape of Scotland Tonight AND the news prog of the year won by News at 6 at RTS Scotland Awards last month. Viewer and staff morale depends on a new sense of rigour and new leadership of BBC Scotland.”

It may be that the proposed “dedicated Scotland edition of the BBC news home page … rolled out as part of a drive towards a “digital-first newsroom ”, or the endless prevarication about a ‘Scottish Six’ (trumped possibly only by the glacial ‘film studio’ debate or Chilcot for sheer institutional tedium and inertia) will yield some better content, but I don’t think anyone’s holding their breaths.

Only a completely different licence fee settlement that brings a credible equitable proportion of funding to BBC Scotland, the complete devolution of media and a start-again philosophy to the entire BBC Scotland output would suffice. Anything else is likely to be more of the same and a culture of endemic mediocrity.

Sarah Smith, BBC Scotland Editor told the Guardian that once Scotland 2016 goes off air, Newsnight will return in Scotland to the 10.30pm slot it has across the rest of the UK, running at full length on BBC Scotland for the first time since 1999. So in summary – more devolved powers (allegedly) means less coverage, no sign of a Scottish Six, just more pilots, and a dedicated web page, that’s Scotland 2016.

Comments (32)

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  1. James Mills says:

    The only good thing about the BBC’s ”Scotland 2016 ” being dumped is that ”Scotland 2016 ” is being dumped .

  2. Andy Borland says:

    A decision beautifully delayed by the BBC wonks so as not to cast any aspersions on the fragrant Sarah Smith.
    Timing is everything 🙂

  3. Bugger le Panda says:

    Pretty much a wet fart.

    Still smells the same as the others

  4. Charles Gallagher says:

    Don’t we all throw out rubbish? Sad really for with a decent Editor and a neutral stance it could have been a good programme covering the Scottish view.

    Auld Rock

  5. w.b.robertson says:

    about time the BBC started to recruit talent – instead of providing jobs for their own establishment cronies. But then that is what we used to argue decades ago. plus la change.

  6. Martin Wood says:

    Can we dump the whole of BBC Scotland?
    the output isn’t much better than Scotland 2016

  7. manandboy says:

    BBC Scotland is somewhere between having been sentenced to death and actually being killed off.
    If Gary Smith is earning his pay then he knows that – and he knows what he has to do. It’ll just take a bit of time that’s all.

  8. John Mooney says:

    Good riddance to this biased anaemic and patronising so called “Scottish”? political farrago of a programme! The “Flagship”BBC Scottish news and current affairs programme”my arse, a complete and utter clear out of the moribund crew in charge at Pacific Quay is what is required but I will not hold my breath!

  9. Thomas Valentine says:

    A biased government propaganda programme who’s content is predictable in both what it intends to cover or ignore and what it will claim. All presented by a “politically reliable” princess of the political aristocracy.
    The programme failed because the people they wanted to delude wouldn’t watch it. The deluded have already swallowed the lie so are of no interest to the BBC’s masters. They wanted to insert their approved version of reality into the heads of anyone who does or might consider supporting independence. That is the very essence of propaganda. But it only works if they can close every source of information but their own. As we experienced, every TV and radio news programme every newspaper was controlled by the UK government or those aligned with it. Online media was essentially ignored. Except when the papers decided to point out a number of people they declared were “cyber-Nazinalist”.
    With the abandonment of the this TV route we can be sure intimidation of those producing online content will begin to gain pace. Its hidden from the public and can utilize every tool of the state. Police, security services, tax authorities and social services. It will be a holiday for online pedophiles, drug dealers and others involved in real crimes, as the resources are redirected against all of us. How slight would be the effort for the state to knock anyone of us to our knees in cowed submission?

  10. Graeme Purves says:

    It was more like a pedalo than a flagship.

  11. tartanfever says:

    Smith also said that BBC Scotland would be concentrating on ‘analysis – led’ news, which in real-speak means more news from unionist think tanks like Reform Scotland and Fraser of Allander etc etc.

    Remember, the BBC charter states that think tanks and other organisations should not be treated as ‘politically neutral’ even though BBC Reporting Scotland often describes Reform Scotland as not only ‘independent’ but ‘respected’

    In essence, this is about cutting staff costs. No investigations will be done at Pacific Quay, they will just use the work of think tanks instead.

    Keep an eye on which ‘experts’ Smith decides to ’employ’

  12. Broadbield says:

    I don’t have tv, I stopped listening to Radio Scotland last year. Am I missing a trick?

    1. baronesssamedi says:

      Radio Scotland is good, occasionally. Sometimes they have news and interviews worth 5 minutes of your time.

      1. James_Mac says:

        Scottish football used to be great but even that has been cut. Temember Prescott calling for the Scottish fotba team being scrapped? Too “divisive”.

  13. Frank Lynch says:

    Might be a rumour, but I hear the Scottish Six will be produced in London or Manchester (wherever their main news room is), with its editorial etc decided by its staff in England, but will have the same useful idiots fronting Reporting Scotland, reading the autocues.

    1. Frank Lynch says:

      Sorry, part of the post should read ‘… but will have the same useful idiots who front Reporting Scotland, reading the autocues on the new show.’

    2. Bugger le Panda says:

      That would not surprise me one bit.

  14. annie says:

    Sarah Smith poisoned this for lots of people before the first programme went on air. I distinctly remember her appearing on Scottish News at 6.30 back in 2014 to advertise Scotland 2014 and even in that brief time she had a pop at the SNP. It was obvious how things would proceed so made up my mind immediately not to watch it.

  15. Phantom Power says:

    I’m concerned about some of the strategies at play here – ‘more analysis’ by who and instead of what? Balanced reporting replaced with opinion pieces? And where is the digital strategy going? Closer working with failing Scotsman and Herald press?
    Lots of questions. Absolutely no accountability or transparency. What other publicly financed organisation operates as the BBC does in Scotland? That’s the question.

  16. Jim_McIntyre says:

    Do you know Iran manages to provide its Kurdish region with three or four channels?

    The UK cannot even muster a sterile half hour news programme consisting of mostly Conservative press releases because Unionist politicians think that is “dangerous”. Jesus.

  17. e.j. churchill says:

    Ahhh, the long-running battle of Capitalism v. Socialism (re-)produces the expected result.

  18. Alex Beveridge says:

    I’ve never watched so-called news and current affair programmes from the B.B.C for years, so obviously have never seen the Scotland 2016.
    Of course, it doesn’t matter how they regurgitate their output, as they are, and always will be, a mouthpiece for the Westminster establishment. Our problem is that they, along with the print media, still reach a huge number of the electorate.O.K, their influence may be declining, but they are still a powerful weapon at the disposal of those who want to keep asset-stripping Scotland.
    Come the next Scottish Referendum, they will once again intensify their efforts to try to dupe as many of those people as possible, and, once again, deny us our independence.
    They don’t care if their audience figures are practically nil, as long as they can keep us subservient to Westminster, they will have did their job, and will be well rewarded by their political masters.
    That is our problem, failure to increase their number of viewers wont bother them, as long as it stops us from reaching our goal.

  19. e.j. churchill says:

    Alex, a quibble, perhaps – or maybe a substantive difference …

    BBC has forever been the child and plaything of the North London metrolpolitan
    liberal/left/paternalistic elites and the proles should be PROPERLY informed.
    If that is your ‘Westminster’ sobeit, but other than FCO, the characterisation is misplaced.

    1. James_Mac says:

      The Conservative government has said that the BBC is there to promote a unionist position. That is a fact.

      1. e.j. churchill says:

        To the Conservatives. Labour and ‘Leftist/Socialist/Statist/Marxist’ are distinction without difference, and they are not much incorrect.

        BBC does not believe much in: private property, free will, free people, free choice.

        hmm, nor does the SG and SNP, come to realise. I have no idea why BBC is disfavoured by so many in Scotland … do you?

        1. Bob Holloway says:

          I think you’ll find that the champagne socialists in charge of the BBC do believe in private property, as long as it’s their private property. Likewise, it’s all right for them to send their brattish, pampered offspring to private schools, but woe betide any of us proles thinking along the same lines, etc.

          1. e.j. churchill says:

            My goodness, Bob, what was your first clue?!??

  20. Monty says:

    I like Scotland 2016 and think Shelley Jofre does a good job and despite her family connections to the Snp shows no bias I can detect. Uk Newsnight looks like a bit of a shoestring operation these days and 2016 does look a bit on the cheap side Suspect Bbc Scotland are in a bit of a can’t win situation here though. I will miss it.

    1. jwm007 says:

      Sorry but I thought she looked like a Thunderbird puppet reading a script which was prepared in London. Also I got irritated by journalists from the Herald or Record who lets face it spin Unionist lies. Both of these papers have very few readers. The Record is a comic. What is the political background of Sarah Smith? Not good enough for C4 but ideal for Pathetic Quay.
      I agree Newsnight is being run on a shoestring and let’s face it doesn’t get out of London very often. C4 news is not perfect but in a different class from this lot and you can be sure doesn’t cost the taxpayer a penny.

  21. old battle says:

    BBC Scotland is more than an oxymoron is an institutional embedded lie, like Parliamentary Democracy or a Justice Minister. Today BBC Scotland TV on BBC One will produce about 3 or 4 hours of content within a 24 hour broadcast day. Ms Smith seemed full of glee in bringing Newsnight back …anyway… FK it …waste of time!!!

  22. c rober says:

    Of course it goes , back to the old old , jobs for the boys in controlled vaccums.

    Are we to be surprised here , job done , move along , restart the good ship britains engines.

    But we stil have the bexit question for the next few hours that will lead to indy ref 2 , you have to love that , its like doing maths to see how Scotland can qualify for a tournament , and even Hawking canny fathom that want oot without quantum physics , magic 8 ball and a rabbits foot.

  23. mike cassidy says:

    Their masters will not be pleased that such an announcement was made before the EU referendum.

    Another independence referendum on the horizon and you’ve just put down one of our loyal attack dogs.

    How dare you!

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