Acknowledging the source
The idea to boycott BBC Scotland comes from the social website, ‘Wings Over Scotland,’ a highly informative daily tear down of Scotland’s right-wing anti-Scots newspapers, the site led by a robust journalist, Stuart Campbell, a man with forensic skills for sniffing out cant and rank hypocrisy dispensed by our elected representatives.
BBC Scotland, the Hudson’s Bay hut in the Arctic
Freezing out BBC Scotland from its listeners and viewers is a natural reaction to how out of step it is with modern Scotland, and how most of our licence fee is spent down south.
The ‘outpost’ of BBC London – for that is what it is – is a purveyor of the UK government line. BBC deals in conventional wisdom. BBC Scotland sees Scotland’s elected government as something suspect or worse, alien, a disagreeable attitude evident in its disrespect for that institution and anyone with the tag ‘SNP’ affixed to their lapel.
Not the principle, it’s the fee
I can see how some freelance journalists, intellectuals, and academics of conscience might shy away from an appearance on a news show, however, for Scottish or Scottish-based actors and entertainers to join in a boycott and lose income is another matter.
For many entertainers their entire income is derived from BBC contract, be it soap series such River City, or a role in a UK produced drama. I include writers and musicians and technical crew. Their chosen vocation relies on BBC or STV offers of work.
For documentary makers, or series producers, such as the Beechgrove Garden, loss of opportunity means going south. South is where dog eats dog. (Mind you, I’ve had kudos stolen from me a few times in bonny Scotland’s media world.)
I can’t see how an appeal to punish BBC Scotland for its blatant hostility and lack of neutrality towards the independence movement will make any serious headway, unless made in the form of a refusal to pay the licence fee.
As it is, BBC is under attack from the wealth of Amazon and Netflix, both multi-nationals rallying their cash into making programme series and films. I think those two enterprises will do more damage to BBC arrogance than any Scot waving a Saltire.
I have an in-built resistance to panel-based audience interaction programmes – those currently in existence produced by English-based production companies. Question Time is a good example of the breed. Audiences are invited into studio set-ups to add drama and boost tension, ya boo politics seen as better to increase ratings than civil discourse, the gladiatorial preferred to consultation and conciliation.
Filled with English nationalists, shows like Question Time reinforce the perception we have elders and betters, we the lumpen Proletariat. Politicians taking part may well get an impression of the public mood but do they do anything about it afterwards? Do they try to alleviate public disquiet or anger?
Their appearance on political programmes is to put across party line and nothing more. They won’t boycott the BBC just because it treats Scotland as a province. They count the times they parrot the party political line as success, relieved that they managed without too many faux pas or blunders.
A call to boycott
Declining paid work and media exposure might be too much for the majority to sacrifice. The corollary is we deny ourselves the chance to state the opposing political opinion and the public to hear it. Who will know if you turned down an invitation, and why to talk on television or radio unless you announce it?
Meanwhile, the gross unfairness that is the vast amount of licence fees paid by Scotland in comparison to what BBC London gives back in productions and commissions remains an intolerable situation. Like Scotland and the ‘allowance’ awarded it by the UK Treasury, BBC London gives its Scottish ‘outpost’ a modest budget, a stipend.
Stop paying the licence fee
The best protest, as I suggest earlier, is to stop paying the BBC licence fee that inflates BBC London’s coffers to the detriment of Scottish output. At the time of writing over 20,000 have done the same, but probably watching selected BBC programmes on their iPad. The mandatory licence fee in many ways is akin to paying for British propaganda broadcast at you. It’s almost a Tory election expense.
Talking to family and friends about Scotland’s political ambitions and how to attain them will enrich your life a lot more than watching BBC Scotland’s well-filtered transmissions.