Sports personality awards shows the need for devolved BBC - Kenny MacAskill

I confess that I didn’t bother watching BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Past shows and indeed the nominations for this year’s awards again showed it to be largely for viewers south of the border. Good luck to them and I hope they enjoyed it. But it’s not a reflection on sports in Scotland.

Gareth Southgate receives the Team Award on behalf of the Men's England Football Team and Manager of the Year during the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards 2021
Gareth Southgate receives the Team Award on behalf of the Men's England Football Team and Manager of the Year during the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards 2021

My issue isn’t with who received accolades, as they all have great individual merit. Emma Raducanu’s an exceptional tale of winning against all the odds and the English fitba team has flare and a camaraderie that you can only admire.

But they’re not my country’s sports people. Josh Taylor, the Prestonpans boxer, achieved an outstanding boxing success but was unmentioned. Not only a world champion but holding all four belts, unprecedented in British Boxing. Curling isn’t my sport but the national team’s successes were exceptional. The football and rugby teams have had their travails over recent decades but this year both rose to new and successful heights.

Sign up to our Opinion newsletter

Yet not a mention. The show simply encapsulates the focus of the BBC which is to see the world through a London, not Scottish lens. My question isn’t why the BBC did it but why the Scottish Government haven’t pushed either for devolution of broadcasting or even for greater representation within the BBC empire.

Catalonia and Quebec both possess broadcasting outlets devolved Scotland can only envy. Instead, we’re to be grateful for a Scottish member on the BBC national board. All the best to Muriel Gray in her new post. But the BBC selection panel had one independent member and who just happened to be a major Tory donor. I’ve met previous post holders and there’s little clout or influence. A token Jock on the board it seems.

Where’s the democratic oversight. The current BBC Scotland board is an inhouse organisation. But why can’t it be appointed by Holyrood, giving it more democratic scrutiny and legitimacy. Moreover, why can’t BBC Scotland opt out more and do their own programming, such as on sports awards.

The Scottish member was approved by Scottish Ministers. It’s time they spoke out on broadcasting.

 0 comments

Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.