Dougie MacLean: BBC sidelining folk music

ONE of the nation’s leading singer-songwriters has accused the BBC of sidelining traditional Scottish culture.

Dougie MacLean slated BBC Scotland as useless. Picture: Neil Hanna

Dougie MacLean, who was given the honour of closing the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this summer, has branded BBC Scotland “useless” and accused it of deliberately shunning anything “overtly Scottish”.

Maclean, 60, said opportunities for performers to appear on BBC Scotland TV or radio programmes were being held back by a “certain cringe factor” within the organisation about showcasing home-grown talent.

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He said many young musicians now had to rely on Gaelic channel BBC Alba for exposure as BBC Scotland had “dumped” Scottish music there and tried to “bury” the few remaining shows in its late-night schedules.

MacLean, a high-profile cultural figure in the Scottish independence movement who is best known for his anthem Caledonia, suggested the strategy could be politically motivated, claiming the BBC avoided “promoting Scottish self-confidence”.

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The veteran performer, who received a lifetime achievement award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards three years ago and was made an OBE in 2011, said he could count “on one hand” how much TV exposure he had had since the 1970s.

MacLean said he was hoping to develop his own “boutique broadcasting” venture, which he has set up in his native Perthshire, to provide a platform for leading traditional talents.

The initiative, Butterstone TV, has already allowed him to live-stream shows from his own annual music festival.

He told The Scotsman: “It is a whole new model that myself, my son and daughter are developing – about how musicians deal with their music and can become independent broadcasters, so they are not relying on the national broadcaster.

“BBC Scotland are not really interested in folk music or acoustic music. They could be doing so much more, but they have moved all the Scottish stuff either to BBC Alba or late at night on the radio.

“The Scottish Government and other people have come to me and asked how we can develop the Scottish music industry. The first thing I say to them is you have to get our mainstream media to play the stuff.

“I think there is a cringe factor with BBC Scotland. There’s something about it – it seems to have a problem with anything that is overtly Scottish somehow. The referendum maybe gave us an insight into how the BBC operates. It has not really been involved in promoting Scottish self-confidence.”

A spokesman for BBC Scotland said: “We cover a wide range of music on television, radio and online, from T in the Park to Celtic Connections.”

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