The Scottish Six Treachery …
An excerpt from ‘London Calling:
How the BBC stole the Referendum’
by GA Ponsonby (22 February 2017)
In 2004 a bid to replace Reporting Scotland with a ‘Scottish Six’ news programme, produced and edited in Scotland, led to a pilot being commissioned. The plan was to provide Scottish viewers with a news programme that presented national and international events through a Scottish lens. It would re-place both the UK national news programme and the out-dated Reporting Scotland.
[...] 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.
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