The BBC’s decision to change the angle of its weather map proves that it has been “misrepresenting the land mass of the UK” for years, an SNP MP has claimed.
Ronnie Cowan, the MP for Inverclyde, said he hoped that the corporation’s change of tack would also lead to it treating Scotland more fairly in its news coverage.
The BBC announced today it was returning to a “flat map projection” for both regional and UK views, in the biggest shake up to its weather coverage for more than a decade.
The previous “tilted” map caused anger when it was first launched in 2005, with another SNP MP, Angus MacNeil, claiming it gave viewers a “distorted” view of Scotland.
The protests prompted the corporation to change the angle slightly 11 days later, but some Scots have remained unhappy about the map’s perspective.
In 2016, the then SNP MP Paul Monaghan accused the BBC of making Scotland “literally appear less significant” through its weather coverage.
The issue was also discussed ahead of the 2014 independence referendum, with some suggesting people were being “trained to underestimate Scotland’s size”.
Writing on the Bella Caledonia website ahead of the vote, Robert Sproul-Cran suggested that the angle of the map could have a “profound effect on our understanding of who and where we are in the world”.
In a statement, Mr Cowan’s office said he had yet to see the new BBC weather map in action but approved of the change in principle.
“It is good to hear the BBC have acknowledged they were misrepresenting the land mass of the UK and have addressed the problem,” the statement read.
“I hope it’s an indication that Scotland and Scotland’s issues will get a fairer representation on all topics, not just the weather.”
Mr MacNeil said he was “delighted” that the BBC had “done the right thing”, adding: “It only took them 12 and half years. Now people can see Scotland really is a big place and we need to have ambitions for Scotland to match.”
However, Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw described their claims as “risible” and “the worst form of nationalist paranoia”.
He added: “Poor wee Ronnie needs to get over himself. Nicola Sturgeon ought to be embarrassed by her hapless parliamentarian as it’s the sort of outburst you’d expect from a faceless cybernat on Twitter, not a serious representative in Westminster.”
The row is the latest tussle between the BBC and supporters of Scottish independence, with former SNP leader Alex Salmond leading the way in his criticism of the corporation.
In 2015, the former First Minister said BBC bias in favour of the Union was a “significant factor” in deciding the result of the referendum and his biggest regret was failing to forsee how important it would prove.
Weather bulletins will feature new on air graphics and the latest technology, allowing for longer range forecasting on both TV and radio.
“We know how important weather is to all of our audiences both in the UK and globally, so I am delighted to be able to bring them a refreshed look, new data and additional functionality,” said the BBC’s head of weather Liz Howell.
A BBC spokesman said: “We are pleased that viewers like the new design and with the overwhelming positive response we’ve received. The new look also makes the most of new higher resolution data, and all our presenters around the UK are enjoying sharing that with their viewers.”