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Demand for online recognition

BBC concedes need to review coverage of media

BBC Scotland (photo by Terry Murden)

Daily Business has secured a concession from BBC Scotland over the corporation’s promotion of media titles and their content.

Senior figures at Pacific Quay have agreed to “give consideration” to a request from Daily Business to include online publications in the daily “review of the papers” which features in the Good Morning Scotland radio programme.

Daily Business has argued that modern readers increasingly consume news online, including news produced by established newspaper groups. But the review only focuses on the print editions of these titles.

It has been noted that GMS cannot claim this to be a “paper only” review as the reviewers regularly include The Independent, now no longer available in print.

Daily Business editor Terry Murden said this was a serious competition issue in that continual references to some media and the exclusion of others is giving “undue prominence” to certain products and services in breach of the BBC’s editorial guidelines.

By directing listeners to these selected media, the BBC is giving a commercial advantage to those titles.

Following email communication between Daily Business and the BBC, and an article published in Daily Business on Monday, the matter was discussed at a meeting involving the new director of BBC Scotland Donalda MacKinnon, head of public policy, Ian Small, and head of news and current affairs, Gary Smith.

Mr Smith said: “We feel that a tipping point has not yet been reached which would see us change the nature of the paper review to include journalism websites.  We are looking at the situation around the Independent.  And we will keep the whole thing under review.

“More immediately we’ll give consideration to mentioning the Daily Business in our business slots.”

Mr Murden commented: “This represents some progress in relation to the promotion of selected media products and it is pleasing to see this important commercial and competition issue discussed by those at the top of BBC Scotland.

“However, ‘give consideration’ is not the same as ‘give a commitment’ and I believe this matter is still being swept to one side.

“I would argue that the ‘tipping point’ has been reached already and the time has come to change this policy.

“There is also a contradiction in the BBC statement. Agreeing to look at the inclusion of The Independent, an online publication, suggests it may no longer be included in the review of the papers, while at the same time I am being told Daily Business may be included. Surely, it’s got to be all, or none.

“Daily Business will continue to highlight the absence of the title in the review of the papers until it is more appropriately designated to include online publications (including those of the newspapers) in acknowledgement of the way in which news is now mainly consumed.”

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