Corporation under fire

Nationalists accuse BBC of sexism and bias

BBC Scotland protests (BBC)

BBC programming has come under fire for being ­sexist and unfair in its coverage of Scottish politics.

In a paper submitted to the Charter renewal inquiry the Scottish Government said the treatment of women on television was unacceptable.

It also criticised the BBC’s treatment of Scottish news.

In a wide-ranging attack on the corporation’s coverage of Scottish affairs the document said: “A more comprehensive approach to news with a greater voice for Scottish journalists on Scottish issues in the UK ­network, as well as on national and international stories for the Scottish ­network, cannot now be resisted.”

Criticism has been stepped up on social media from a number of frustrated viewers following a week of ‘national’ news bulletins dominated by the debate over Grammar schools, the junior doctors’ dispute and flood defences, all of which have no relevance in Scotland.

One former BBC correspondent said on Twitter: “First 20 minutes of @BBC Newsnight on English schools. No wonder Scotland needs its own TV news after 17 years of devolution.”


The SNP has long campaigned for a so-called Scottish Six bulletin of global and national news which would be edited and broadcast from Scotland.

The BBC was accused of bias during the 2014 independence referendum campaign and there were demonstrations outside the BBC Scotland headquarters at Pacific Quay, Glasgow.

Opposition ­parties accuse the nationalists of over-reacting and the BBC has defended its record, denying any bias.

The Scottish government’s latest accusations focus heavily on gender and ethnic balance.

The document said: “The BBC has a pivotal role to play in delivering meaningful social and cultural outcomes for the communities that pay their licence fees across the UK and we expect the BBC to do more.

“People, in all their diversity, have a right to be seen and to be heard on the television and the radio, and to be seen and heard in a way that doesn‘t diminish them.

“The Scottish Government believes that the BBC needs to work harder and smarter to achieving 50-50 when it comes to gender equality on our screens and airwaves. Women, in all their diversity, need to be seen and heard in a way that accurately and meaningfully reflects their lives.”

The Scottish Government wants a fairer share of the licence fee raised in Scotland to be invested in Scotland.]

It wants more meaningful commissioning power with a new Scottish Board.

A BBC spokesman said: “We’ve set out a clear commitment to Scotland including better portraying and representing Scotland to Scottish audiences and those across the UK, reviewing our news offer and allocating additional funding to improve dedicated services in the nations.

“We also launched our diversity strategy earlier this year which set challenging new targets, including women to fill 50 per cent of roles on-screen and on-air across all genres from drama to news by 2020. “We look forward to the government publishing the draft Charter.”

> See also: Daily Business Comment – Time to Switch on Scottish Six

2 Comments to Nationalists accuse BBC of sexism and bias

  1. The term ‘Nationalists’ is used in a derogatory manner by news media and social media. You do not have to be a ‘nationalist’ to see that Scottish news & events do not get BBC attention..unless it is a negative angle! Too many positives going on in Scotland for you?

    • Thanks for your comment. Use of the term Nationalist in this instance is perfectly appropriate as the criticism referred to is in a document produced by the Scottish Government, formed by the Scottish National Party.

      There is no intention to use Nationalist in a derogatory manner. I’m sure the Scottish National Party has no problem with it.

      On a purely practical point, it is also used by headline writers as a shorter substitute for ‘Scottish Government’ which may not fit into the space available.

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