Media

2007 - 2021

On Balance

newmediaOur broadcasters are letting us down … things have to change.

I was down in England last week where the Thatcher funeral dominated the media. I’m told in Scotland it was much the same with BBC Radio Scotland going in for wall to wall coverage on the hallowed day, they sent a team down especially.

Another story failed to register with the BBC, a little known web site called National Collective had been taken offline. National Collective is an organisation of Scottish artists and creative people who have come together in order to use art in the quest for Scottish independence.

The site is different, it’s vibrant and the young people who have injected this exciting pulse into the referendum debate deserve congratulations.

It’s also fearless, and this was demonstrated in a very public refusal to bow to what its director called ‘corporate bullying’. The legal threats from a donor to the No campaign signaled an uncomfortable shift in the referendum debate from robust challenge to attempts to silence.

The episode should serve as a warning to each and every one of us that our democracy is indeed a fragile and precious thing. The threats made against National Collective followed similar attempts at silencing opponents by the Better Together campaign who tried to block a satirical video that lampooned some of the arguments put forward by those who would oppose independence.

A similar, and equally disconcerting censorship, happened in the days before the funeral of Margaret Thatcher when a song was effectively banned because it was deemed to be in poor taste.

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead was a public reaction to a media and establishment both of which had lost all sense of perspective. In a time of great austerity, the UK government deemed it acceptable to lavish over £10 million on a woman who died leaving £66 million to her family.

In Scotland, a BBC currently sacking journalists and back-end staff managed to send a crew down to London in order to report on this event.

Meanwhile the quality and output at BBC Scotland continues to deteriorate and shrill bulletins boom out almost hourly. What little debate we are presented with often results in mature analysis and counter claim being drowned out as lop sided panels ensure one side dominates.

In February a little publicised rally took place in Glasgow. On a freezing cold Saturday morning, almost 200 people braved the elements and marched in order to draw attention to the democratic deficit currently endured by Scots as a result of the poor coverage of the referendum debate.

BARD2014 is a non-political campaign which is calling on our broadcasters to provide a balanced and all inclusive referendum debate.

The campaign, which is targeted at Scotland’s two main broadcasters, calls for equal representation for both sides in all debate and discussion programmes. Our campaign also calls on more representation from women and minority groups and more investment in Scotland – especially from the BBC.

A main theme of the campaign is that it should be ‘all inclusive’ and that’s why the legal attempt to silence the National Collective is relevant. It’s also why I am today seeking support from those sites which have voiced their own support for freedom of speech and openly challenged this attempt by a powerful elite to control debate.

There are very serious problems at BBC Scotland. When management can openly defy a democratically elected government and its parliament then things really are bad. That’s what happened earlier this year when management at Pacific Quay refused a request to appear before Holyrood’s Culture Committee – only deigning to appear after being told to do so by London.

These people do as they please and to hell with us, the little people … the Scots license payers.

On May 18th the BARD campaign will again march through Glasgow calling for an open, honest, all inclusive and balanced debate on Scotland’s future. Equal representation at all sides in all debates, more representation from women and minority groups and an improvement in quality.

There are elements at BBC Scotland who are pushing their own agenda – we know that, and we also know they will continue to push this agenda all the way until the referendum. However there are top quality and impartial journalists at BBC Scotland who are currently marginalised and who, with more investment, would have a greater profile.

It is important to draw the public’s attention to the shortcomings in our broadcast media and to increase pressure on broadcasters like the BBC who benefit from £350 million of Scottish license payer’s money whilst all but ignoring the needs of its customers.

We need help, we need people who are willing to speak out – but most of all we need people to get to Glasgow and walk with us.

We do not seek advantage for any side in the independence debate, we seek balance and fairness.

Please get to Glasgow on May 18th – not because you support one side or the other, but because you cherish freedom of expression, honest debate and most of all … an inclusive debate.

Glasgow, Saturday May 18th – 12:30pm

If we seek nothing … we get nothing.

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  1. Rod Mac says:

    Is the theme of this “walk” about job cuts at Pacific quay (as you alluded to in NNS earlier) or about the bias of the BBC?
    For if it is about job cuts I for one am not interested.
    If it is truly to expose the bias and downright dishonesty of the BBC Scotland political output count me in.

  2. NSEdinburgh says:

    On the one hand, I agree that referendum issues are, at best, being poorly reported /debated through our main media outlets. On the other, I’m wary of campaigns like this being hi-jacked (or organised) by those who want to get rid of public broadcasting (the BBC) altogether. Plus, saying that ‘Mr Tommy Sheridan’ is confirmed as a speaker, with more to be confirmed ‘in due course’ doesn’t fill me with confidence. In fact I suspect that he will put off more people than he will attract.

  3. Springster says:

    This campaign and rally are important. To shout ‘bias’ at the BBC will cause tbe politically unaware to switch off, that is why it is important to call for balance and get the support of ordinary people.

    Requesting an end to cuts and better quality programming can only help the Yes campaign, especially if it is in conjunction with calls for balance. People will start to scrutinise debates on radio and TV for evidence of a lack of balance.

  4. Jake Gittes says:

    I wonder if in years to come, if after say a NO vote in September 2014 and Scotland descends into a new dark age of austerity, stunted growth, introversion and collapsed political participation.

    When the Scottish parliament becomes a glorified council chamber dominated by an ethos of “municipal magagerialism” where the ambition and potential of the nation is crushed under a weight of SLAB inspired mediocraty. A time when political debate and contoversy is limited to bus timetables and under age drinking statistics. A time when Scots scramble for the crumbs of a shrinking London budget and their colonial status is reaffirmed by a resurgent Union State anxious to repatriate powers from Holyrood.

    Is it not possible that when the political History of 2013 and 2014 is being written years later that there may be many many troubled consciences at Pacific Quay. Are we not complicit? What have we done? Did we help Scots to settle for this? I for one will be on the march on May 18th.

  5. annie says:

    Yes, a fair and balanced media is one of the most important rights for any free country. I’ll definitely be there!

    Naomi Klein on Greece, elites and the media:

    “None of this can happen without a complicit media, a media willing to work with the elites, and spread the fear. It’s the fear that’s fuelling this, the fear of falling, falling out of Europe, falling into the developing world. Politicians don’t have the ability to spread that fear on their own. They need the commentaries. They need the hysteria on the talk shows.
    Journalists have to understand that none of this can happen without us. We are not just observers. In these moments when it’s all about fear and orientation and loss of story, we are actors in this and we have choice. Are we going to help people stay oriented, or are we going to be tools of the elites?

    Whether it’s fear of immigrants, or this supposed calamity in the future that prevents people from looking at the calamity in the present. The calamity has come. This is a depression. But by constantly focusing people on the worst thing that could happen down the road that is always being put in front of you, then you are not focusing on the outrageous, masochistic attack that has been inflicted on this country.

    The roots of this are the financial crisis in 2008. And it was the journalists who didn’t ask the questions in the first place, and fed all of this hype about a market boom that was going to last forever and didn’t ask those questions.

    We are deep in this. Both in creating the context for the economic crash in the first place, and now being tools of the elites and how we respond to it.”

    http://www.enetenglish.gr/?i=news.en.article&id=766

  6. You just need to take a look on the Better Together site and you’ll see a list for their big issue of the day, pensions, article after article painting the same negative picture. Every article take straight from the MSM including BBC, Scotsman and Herald etc. In the time I’ve been blogging, by comparison, on any of the pro YES sites I don’t think I’ve ever seen a clean sweep of MSM organisations collectively covering a positive YES story, and lets face it there have been plenty. The imbalance is there to see loud and clear and must be addressed. I attended the last march and will be there again!

  7. Clydebuilt says:

    I’ll be at the March

    Tell your contacts

    We need to make this march as big as we can folks1

  8. annie says:

    “We need to make this march as big as we can folks”

    Yep, it’s ‘one’ of the most important marches in the whole debate, not just for Scotland but for ‘democracy’ as a whole. It is patently obvious to anyone with half a brain cell that the media is ‘institutionally elitist’ – and we don’t need an enquiry to point it out! Quite clearly, the majority of Scottish journalists are either too thick, too lazy or just selfish arse lickers to give a…

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