I have to say I find the whole debate about a dedicated BBC Scotland international news programme at six in the evening, the so-called “Scottish Six”, thoroughly boring.
After all, if there really was a demand for it, then STV could introduce it tomorrow and prosper from it. Likewise a digital channel could be established and deliver the service, picking up reports from different providers or asking correspondents to tailor their reports for a Scottish audience.
That, of course, is not going to happen. The reality is that there is no real demand for a Scottish Six, except in the minds of self-serving nationalist politicians and some self-interested journalists who think there might be jobs at the end of it.
The reason there is little public demand is easy to see. First it will be a huge drain on the BBC’s resources. The only way a dedicated international news programme broadcast from Glasgow for Scotland’s small audience could possibly be funded is for huge cuts to existing budgets in Scottish drama, sport and entertainment.
It’s all very well asking the public would if they would like an international Scottish news programme, to which some might say, “why, yes” – but how many would like to have an hour of news from a solely Scottish perspective if it meant less of their other cherished viewing?
Huge capital investment to duplicate what is already done in London will be required and that will need to come from – you guessed it – the licence fees of English viewers. Funny how such dependency on being British never seems to trouble nationalists if it suits them.
The second reason it is a nonsense is that we already have the best of both worlds. In the BBC news we have one of the best, maybe the pre-eminent, news broadcasters in the world which gives us international and UK news between 6-6.30pm. We then have the Scottish news between 6.30-7pm which, having seen the news output from BBC regions across the UK, I rate as the best in the business. Watching news from London, West Midlands and Look East is unbelievably parochial.
Trying to create a new programme that looks at an earthquake in Pakistan and a terrorist outrage in France from a Scottish perspective is going to be how much different? It can only be framed in a parochially Scottish context. So why do we need it?
Take the Olympic games, which is about to kick-off in Brazil. We can expect to see massive coverage of that from a British perspective on the BBC news and a Scottish perspective later.
Having only the Scottish Six would mean losing out on seeing the success of the whole of Britain. Which is the nationalists’ goal. It’s actually a form of censorship to make you feel less British.
Finally, don’t think it will stop at a Scottish Six, that’s just a seductive alliteration. Next will be demands for breakfast, lunchtime and ten o’clock news to be solely Scottish produced.
Financially that would of course make sense to defray the costs, so it would become inevitable. The BBC would no longer exist in Scotland as a news service, it would become the Scottish Broadcasting Corporation, funded by England.
A more sad, narrow-minded idea I cannot think of. If that’s the Scotland of the future I want no part of it.