An alien force

bbc_union_at_any_costWE REJECT CRITICISM

That could be BBC Scotland’s strapline. It could almost be their mission statement. It certainly reflects the British state broadcaster’s smugly complacent attitude to criticism, as will be testified by anyone who has experienced the corporation’s arrogantly dismissive attitude to complaints.

All of which is reminiscent of the current debate about the accountability of the media and journalists’ insistence that they are not answerable to any external authority, least of all the consumers of their product. Just as the principle of press freedom is used a stick with which to beat any who criticise journalists, so the principle of the independence of public service broadcasting has been fashioned into a shield to deflect criticism of broadcasters.

This is what happens. All institutions created by and for fallible humans are bound to be imperfect. Organisations will tend to evolve to serve their own existence and convenience rather than the purpose for which they were founded. Professional groups will tend to become self-serving elites more concerned with the preservation of their status than with adherence to codes. That’s just the way people are. That’s just human nature.

Against this tendency to corruption are set such things as effective management, state regulation and market forces. We hope and intend that the managers of organisations will keep them focused on their purpose. We hope and intend that state regulation will prevent abuses. We hope and intend that consumer power will serve as a corrective to failures elsewhere.

But what happens when incompetent management is allowed to persist because they have become accountable only to themselves? What happens when a lack of political will saps regulation of its power? What happens when organisations are shielded from both public opinion and consumer power either by corporate wealth or the funding system which is meant to ensure their independence from political and commercial interests?

What happens is that we get the inadequacy and imbalance which characterises the media in Scotland today. We get a public service broadcaster which is woefully unfit for Scotland’s purpose. We get newspapers that simply don’t relate to Scotland.

We get media which are impervious to criticism and incapable of change.

We get British media lurking in Scotland like an alien force.

It is impossible to neglect the parallel with the British political parties squatting in the Scottish Parliament like a cuckoo in the nest of our democracy.

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6 thoughts on “An alien force

  1. BBC the British Broadcasting Corporation. Renowned the world over for its impartiality. You at the back there! Stop laughing!
    Of course the BBC is perfectly impartial as long as nothing is threatening British interests. Scottish interests are not British interests indeed as is now plain to see Westminster and by extension the British establishment see Scottish interests and Scotland as a clear threat to British interests and Britain.
    Therefore the BBC cannot and will not ever be impartial when it comes to Scotland. The clue, as is said, is in the name.
    Scotland needs its own public service broadcaster as it needs its own mainstream media.
    A Scottish PSB Is essential after independence. My question is. What is to be done with the British press in Scotland and the British parties in Holyrood after independence?


    1. Good question. No doubt some of the media will continue to be anti-independence. Most, however, will adapt as best they can to the new reality. Or fold.

      The question of what will happen to British Nationalist politicians after independence is, perhaps, more interesting. And more problematic. A newspaper can quite reasonably alter its editorial stance. They do it all the time. But how does a British Nationalist politician do a U-turn? How might anybody trust them if, after years of insisting that independence would reduce Scotland to an impoverished hell-hole, they suddenly starting claiming to be the ones who will look after Scotland’s interests. How might they have any credibility as Scottish politicians when their entire career has been devoted to the Union at any cost?

      Either they were dishonest and/or stupid when they were denigrating Scotland and predicting disaster; or they have a vested interest in proving they were right by trying to make that disaster happen. Would you vote for any of them?

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Be most wary of any former media that has become a propaganda arm. They are the perfect wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    The BBC appears to have seamlessly transitioned from a public broadcaster into a state broadcaster and it is most dangerous while there is still remains a residual afterglow of public sentiment in sections of the community who have not noticed the change.


  3. Good post Peter.

    During the last Indyref I was shocked how impartial the BBC was and how it acted. The MSM was the same if they had reported half of the positive aspects of the wealth and potential of an Independent Scotland I’m sure the result would have been different.

    We are more street wise this time and here’s hoping we convince the majority this time to the great potential Scotland has as an Independent nation.


  4. Given the new charter which mandates the BBC’s overt support for the Union, come the next independence referendum, I can’t see how the BBC as it stands can avoid being required to register itself as an anti-indy supporter. With all the resources which it commands having to be counted on that side of the campaign.

    Unless every second of its coverage of the campaign is put in the hands of a clearly-neutral third-party or alternatively is turned over 50:50 to each side, with hopefully in addition a live fact-checking operation, as I believe happened in the recent Irish referendum campaign.

    There is no way that the BBC can be allowed to operate as it did the last time.


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