BBC will not give 2014 Games special treatment

FANS expecting partisan coverage of Scotland’s battle with English, Welsh and Northern Irish athletes at next year’s Commonwealth Games could be in for a disappointment.

BBC Scotland will not give special billing to Team Scotland during its coverage of the Commonwealth Games. Picture: PA

BBC Scotland has told staff no TV programmes will be dedicated solely to the performances of the host nation, Scotland on Sunday has learned. Medal-hunting Team Scotland followers who tune in to the BBC’s extensive television coverage of Glasgow 2014 will have to accept all British competitors being given the same billing.

It means that in practice, for example, swimmer Michael Jamieson, the Glaswegian who won a silver medal at last summer’s Olympic Games in London, could be beaten by his English training partner Andrew Willis – and if he is, some insiders fear the mood of the coverage may not reflect what the impact this will have on Team Scotland.

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Although the coverage of Glasgow 2014 by the BBC network, as host broadcaster, is expected to be thorough and extensive, Scotland on Sunday understands BBC Scotland’s comparatively meagre resources mean there will be no daily highlights package concentrating solely on Team Scotland’s performance – a concept that was initially discussed but then abandoned.

On radio, BBC Radio Scotland will have resources and editorial licence to cover the entire Games from a Scottish viewpoint. But any Scotland-centric TV coverage looks certain to be confined to extended news bulletins, insiders understand. The BBC is set to ­despatch a huge team from its sports hub in Salford to Glasgow for the 12-day extravaganza.

It is thought to be aware of the potential for underplaying Scotland’s status as the host nation – per head of population, the viewing audience in Scotland is expected to clearly outnumber those tuning in from elsewhere – and is making efforts to bring more Scottish voices to its coverage than it did for London 
2012 or the Manchester Commonwealth Games of 2002.

In Hazel Irvine and Jill Douglas, the BBC does have two experienced Scottish presenters, but some former Team Scotland athletes are also in line to play a bigger part in the coverage than they would have done had the Games not been taking place in Scotland.

Sports journalists at the BBC’s Scottish HQ on Pacific Quay in Glasgow are thought to be in the dark, however, about any possible role in the TV coverage for them. The SNP said it hoped cutbacks at BBC Scotland would not affect how it covered the Games.

Nationalist MSP Graeme Dey said: “We have frequently expressed concerns at the scale of cuts at BBC Scotland and their implications for the quality of coverage by Scotland’s national broadcaster in a range of areas. Hopefully there will be plenty of medal-winning Scottish performances to broadcast and cheer.”

A spokeswoman for BBC Scotland said: “No decision has been made about our broadcasting plans. They will be announced in due course.”