Acknowledging the source
The idea to boycott BBC Scotland comes from the social website, ‘Wings Over Scotland,’ a highly informative daily look at Scotland’s written and spoken politics, the site led by a robust journalist, Stuart Campbell, a man with forensic skills for sniffing out subtle and blunt propaganda in press and media, as well as cant and rank hypocrisy dispensed by our elected representatives.
BBC Scotland, the Hudson’s Bay hut in the Arctic
A proposal to freeze out BBC Scotland’s source material is a natural reaction to its well-documented record of promoting Scotland’s problems and remedies.
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.
I can’t see how the appeal to punish BBC Scotland for its blatant hostility and lack of neutrality towards the independence movement will make any serious headway.
I’d love to see Joe Public refuse vox pop interviews in the street. They give the BBC the excuse to patronise, to claim they take our views into account. Remarks made on camera as your mum or granny go shopping – microphone stuck under their nose with barely a hello – always go unexplained, and are edited to meaningless three-second sound-bites.
I have the same resistance to panel-based audience interaction programmes – all of those currently in existence produced by English-based production companies. Question Time is a good example of the breed. Audiences with known loudmouths 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.
Audience members are invited to put questions, but those tend to be steered or edited, if not fully written, by the producer to ensure topically and brevity. Audience questions add little to open debate that an informed chairman could not ask. Why not a panel of well-prepared journalists against a panel of politicians, or a group of well-informed members of the public?
Tired, English unionists only shows like Question Time reinforce the perception we elders and betters. We are the lumpen Proletariat.
The other aspect of political debating shows is how false is the democracy supposedly exercised. 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?
I rather think they do not arrive back at their office keen to instruct secretary and civil servants to provide them with data on the issues expressed the evening before, and then prepare a question for Parliament? Their appearance on political programmes is to put across their party line and nothing more. They won’t boycott the BBC just because it treats Scotland as a province. They are liable to demand to be heard belittling Scotland as much as possible.
The politician goes home breathing a sigh of relief he or she mustered through without too many faux pas or blunders. They count the times they parrot the party political line as a success.
A call to boycott
A few notable public spirited Yes supporters have told BBC Scotland staff where to shove their invitations. 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. A paucity of intellectual contributions will allow mediocrity to flourish and block the genuine cultured individual and academic from being heard.
Who will know if you turned down an invitation, and why, to talk on television or radio unless you announce it? Where do you do that if you eschew all participation?
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.
The best protest, in my opinion, is to stop paying your BBC licence fee that inflates BBC London’s coffers to the detriment of Scottish output.
Talking to you family and friends will enrich your life a lot more than watching BBC’s Scotland’s well-filtered transmissions.