BBC Scotland heads face Holyrood committee: (left to right) Bruce Malcolm (Head of Commonwealth Games coverage), John Boothman (Head of News and Current Affairs), Ken MacQuarrie (Director of BBC Scotland), John Mullin (Editor, Referendum Unit).
The BBC's 'Amazing Litany' Of Bias
Coverage of the Scottish independence referendum, due to be held on September 18 this year, is a compelling example of the deep establishment bias of the corporate media. Some critics have characterised the BBC's coverage, in particular, as though Scotland is merely a region or a county of the United Kingdom called 'Scotlandshire'.
The establishment, pro-Union bias of 'mainstream' coverage emerges clearly from a careful analysis by an experienced media academic, and by the BBC's reprehensible attempt to rubbish both the study and its author. The year-long study was conducted by a small team led by Professor John Robertson of the University of West Scotland. Between 17 September 2012 – 18 September 2013, the team recorded and transcribed approximately 730 hours of evening TV news output broadcast by BBC Scotland and Scottish Television (STV). The study concluded that 317 news items broadcast by the BBC favoured the 'No' campaign (i.e. no to Scottish independence) compared to just 211 favourable to the 'Yes' campaign. A similar bias in favour of the 'No' campaign was displayed by STV. Overall, there was a broadcaster bias favouring the 'No' campaign by a ratio of 3:2. In other words, there was 50 per cent more favourable coverage to the 'No' campaign.
Professor Robertson told Media Lens that 'more importantly', there was also:
'undue deference and the pretence of apolitical wisdom in [official] reports coming from London – the Office for Budget Responsibility and Institute for Fiscal Studies, for example; but, also, Treasury officials [were] presented as detached academic figures to be trusted.' (Email, March 18, 2014)
There was also a deep-rooted personalisation of Scottish independence by the broadcasters in their systematic conflating of the 'wishes' of Alex Salmond, Scotland's First Minister, with the aims and objectives of the 'Yes' campaign. This was not the case with media coverage of the 'No' campaign. The objectives of the 'No' Campaign were not routinely portrayed as the 'wishes' of Alastair Darling, leader of the 'Better Together' group campaigning to keep Scotland within the United Kingdom.