BBC Scotland told to ‘rise to challenge’ of changing landscape

A review found audiences in Scotland have a lower opinion of the BBC news output than in other parts of the UK. Picture: John Devlin
A review found audiences in Scotland have a lower opinion of the BBC news output than in other parts of the UK. Picture: John Devlin
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The BBC has to “rise to the challenge of representing Scottish life as it is today”, according to the corporation’s Trust.

A review found audiences in Scotland have a lower opinion of the BBC news output than in other parts of the UK.

The Trust said feedback shows BBC Scotland’s television news performs strongly in terms of reach and quality but it also heard “very critical opinion from some members of the audience”.

Criticism mainly centres on the balance of news coverage around Scottish politics and football.

The latest review looked at services in all devolved nations, assessing performance on TV, radio and online.

Some respondents to the BBC Trust’s public consultation were said to be dissatisfied with the balance of output from BBC news overall and felt there was too much emphasis on news, including Westminster politics, relevant only to audiences in England.

The report read: “In Scotland the challenge is particularly acute with many audience perceptions of news output lower than average and we heard a very critical opinion from some members of the audience.

“The BBC is already making some programming changes and it will be important to make sure the impact of these is tracked.”

On the public consultation part of the report, the Trust said: “Sports coverage in particular generates strong opinion in Scotland; many use BBC Scotland services as a go-to source for football programming, although some feel as though not all teams get equal coverage and others would like to see less time spent on football altogether.

“There is passionate debate within Scotland over whether the BBC’s services provide fair and balanced coverage of news and current affairs. Much reference is made to the 2014 independence referendum by the respondents, when some felt the BBC’s coverage was more favourable to Unionist causes, while others felt that Nationalist representatives were not given the level of scrutiny they 
deserved.”

Bill Matthews, BBC trustee for Scotland, said: “It is clear from this review that Scottish audiences value the BBC but the BBC has to rise to the challenge of representing Scottish life as it is today.”

A BBC Scotland spokesman said: “The BBC is actively considering how it should best serve audiences in Scotland in news and whether we need to make any changes to our existing output. That work is ongoing and we expect to announce the findings later this year.”