NO matter what one’s views are on the independence referendum, it seems reasonable to expect our broadcast media to provide us with balanced, fair and informative coverage.
It is, therefore, concerning (but to many people, no surprise) that analysis by researchers at the University of the West of Scotland indicates substantial imbalance against Scottish independence in the output of both BBC Scotland and STV.
In a study of the two flagship news programmes from September 2012 to September 2013, it was observed that, for example, Reporting Scotland broadcast 262 items deemed favourable to the No campaign, as opposed to just 171 favourable to Yes.
Anti-independence comments were left unchallenged at the end of an item 28 times by the BBC, while pro-independence comments were left unchallenged only eight times.
The report concludes that “on the objective evidence… mainstream TV coverage of the first year of the independence referendum campaigns has not been fair or balanced”.
This matters to all of us, not only to those who favour a Yes vote. Organisations such as the BBC are in positions of enormous responsibility, being trusted to provide balanced information and analysis. If that is demonstrably not the case, I believe fundamental issues of democracy and legitimacy come into question.
North Berwick, East Lothian