Interview: BBC bias, bullying, and the Scottish referendum
JOHN ROBERTSON and OLIVER HUITSON
(21 February 2014)
"several of my colleagues have been warned by BBC contacts to distance themselves from me"
Following the recent publication of his report, Dr John Robertson speaks to OurKingdom about his findings, his methodology, and an unusually fierce response - "bullying" - from the BBC itself.
Dr John Robertson from the University of West Scotland has just published research on bias and fairness in the coverage of the Scottish referendum debate, which he has written for OurKingdom about here. The research covers the period Sep 2012 to Sep 2013 and 620 hours of news broadcasts on BBC news in Scotland (‘Reporting Scotland’) and STV (ITV Scotland). He is interviewed by Oliver Huitson, who in September 2012 published How the BBC betrayed the NHS.
Oliver Huitson: You recently published a lengthy report based on examination of a year’s worth of output from BBC and ITV news broadcasts in Scotland on the subject of the upcoming referendum on Scottish independence. What was your overall impression of the BBC’s coverage with regard to bias and fairness?
John Robertson: I found clear imbalance and a number of practices which combined, I’d argue, to favour the No campaign. The rough 3:2 ratio of statements favouring the No campaign over the Yes campaign struck me as less remarkable than it did the BBC policy head, who contacted me angrily, or than it did many of the online Yes campaigners often referred to as ‘cybernats’. I would have been surprised if the ratio had run the other way. Imagine the state broadcaster in somewhere like Ukraine or Nigeria performing as impartially as 3:2 suggests. We’d probably think that was alright. More important I’d say was the tendency on both channels to demonise First Minister Salmond, to edit in offensive comments about his honesty and the deferential manner in which ‘research’ from ‘independent’ sources, mostly with an interest in preserving the Union, was treated.
Read full interview HERE
Further Background HERE