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Many people will be concerned at reports in the press (23 February 2016) which indicate the British Broadcasting Corporation may be falling prey to subversive SNP demands – including axing its British Six o'clock News and replacing it with a one-hour "Scottish" news programme.
This is despite the fact that there is already a perfectly adequate Scottish news programme at 6.30pm – and even though focus groups are consistently against this ultra-parochial SNP idea!
The truth is that the only people who have been demanding this change (for at least 20 years) have been the SNP, who are now in a powerful political position to demand the BBC bows to its wishes.
They believe the BBC is one of the most important remaining British Institutions in Scotland, which must fall.
They blame it partly for their defeat in 2014. In the absence of being able to control it directly, they want to obtain as much editorial influence over it as possible.
The SNP does not want to hold another referendum until they have the BBC under some form of their political control.
These proposed changes are all part of their effort.
This article summarises what is happening. It highlights some key concerns. It suggests the people to contact (and their addresses) in order to help them stiffen their resolve against such SNP pressure. There is still time to stop this.
This article by Alistair McConnachie was posted on this site on 24 February 2016.
It can also be found on our Facebook site, UKaForceForGood here
Please also sign the Petition to maintain British-wide news broadcasting at: www.change.org/p/bbc-stop-the-snp-taking-control-of-the-bbc.
Pic: SNP supporters and separatists demonstrate against BBC Scotland in Glasgow on 14 September 2014
WHAT IS GOING ON?
The BBC Charter is being renewed. It is renewed every 10 years.
WHAT IS THE BBC CHARTER?
This is the Royal Charter which established and governs the BBC. The current one can be read here (opens as a pdf in a new window).
According to the BBC, "It sets out the public purposes of the BBC and outlines the respective duties of the BBC Trust and the Executive Board. The current Charter, the eighth, came into full effect on 1 January 2007 and expires on 31 December 2016 (ten year period is the historical standard). The Charter Review is the opportunity to consider all aspects of the BBC."
WHAT IS A ROYAL CHARTER?
Royal Charters are granted by the Privy Council, which is a body set up in the early days of the monarchy to advise the King or Queen on matters of state. The BBC is governed by a Royal Charter, rather than an Act of Parliament, in order to underline its independence from the government of the day.
HOW IS THE NEW CHARTER BEING CREATED?
While it is not an Act of Parliament, certain government ministers are nevertheless involved in negotiating its final form. It has been described as "a private negotiation between the BBC and the relevant ministers".
In this case, the relevant Ministers are those in the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, who will then work with the appropriate Ministers in the Privy Council.
WHAT IS THE CONCERN?
The BBC opened its Charter Review Process to the public and interested parties. The SNP has submitted a highly nationalistic proposal as part of its on-going efforts to destroy the concept of British-wide public service broadcasting, and bring broadcasting in Scotland under its own political control.
Of course, it will deny that it is doing anything so blatant!
However, that is its long-term aim.
The SNP believes that the BBC is one of the reasons that it lost the referendum in 2014.
Prior to holding another independence referendum, the SNP wants to have created a situation where it either controls broadcasting in Scotland directly, or where it has as much editorial control as possible over the content of broadcasting.
While broadcasting remains reserved to the British Parliament, the SNP wants to lever as much control as it can. It wants as much influence as possible over the way people in Scotland quite literally view, and understand, the rest of the UK.
It sees the renewal of the BBC Charter as a way of levering in its oar in order to take some control of the direction of the craft.
Anyone concerned about the independence of broadcasting in the United Kingdom needs to be very concerned.
It is the "vision" of the SNP – the nightmare for the rest of us – to gain editorial control over BBC content in order, "to ensure that appropriate editorial decisions can be made, in particular in relation to news and current affairs which accurately reflect the impact of issues in Scotland." (See the submission from "the Scottish Government" at www.gov.scot/Resource/0049/00494159.pdf at p.5).
"Appropriate" meaning, "whatever the SNP decides is correct".
In order to effect this, it wants a "Scottish Board" to be created to hold BBC Scotland to account.
This Board itself will be (surprise, surprise) "held to account by the Scottish parliament". (ibid at p.7)
The fact is that the SNP is getting away with this sort of stuff. It is not even hiding its intentions!
Alex Salmond himself has even said that control of the BBC in Scotland should be transferred to Edinburgh so that its alleged bias could be "resolved".
He said: "In reality, I don't think the broadcasting issue in terms of how it treats Scotland will be properly resolved till we have broadcasting under the remit of the democratic parliament of Scotland."
(See: Euan McColm, "License fee key as SNP sets up clash with BBC", Scotland on Sunday, 27-9-15)
The SNP is very open about what it wants in the long-term! It wants it "under its remit".
It is not interested in more powers for BBC Scotland, but rather more powers over BBC Scotland. If there are to be more powers "for" BBC Scotland, then the SNP will ensure it is more powers which it is able to control.
Its long-term aim is to break the Scottish element away from the rest of the corporation's activities and turn it into a fully "Scottish" company, bowing to the SNP's commands.
Thus it would become an official Scottish State Broadcaster – already created and paid for by British taxpayers money!
That is their aim! They have no good intentions for the British Broadcasting Corporation.
The least we should expect from our pro-UK politicians is that they do nothing to make the SNP's goal easier, and that they do not abandon BBC Scotland to fend for itself against the wolves of Holyrood/SNP!
WHO SHOULD WE CONTACT WITH OUR CONCERNS?
We should contact the people who will be responsible for the final Charter.
1. The relevant people in the BBC. That is: The Director General and the Members of the BBC Trust.
2.The Ministers in the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and the relevant Ministers in the Privy Council. Addresses are below.
MORE TALKING POINTS
In addition to the points we have raised, you may wish to raise some of the following concerns:
The SNP's demands for a Scottish Six o'Clock news has long been SNP party policy (for at least 20 years). Why is the BBC cow-towing to the policy of a political party?
This policy aims to create a sense of difference and 'foreignness' between England and Scotland. It is part of its policy to make Scots and English less familiar with one another.
If a Scottish Six goes ahead, it will be used to foster the SNP's agenda of separation, grievance and division in the UK.
The BBC should not be complicit in assisting SNP party policy. The BBC is required to be independent of party political interests and should not go against this, regardless of how much pressure is put upon it by Holyrood/SNP.
The BBC should not be assisting the SNP's aims of cultural separation. The BBC's historic mission is to serve civil society and sustain British citizenship, laid out by the Royal Charter – not to appease the SNP.
Acting in support of the SNP's aim to undermine the United Kingdom is a breach of the Royal Charter.
The people working for the BBC in Scotland in future will constantly be having to weigh up whether or not their work will satisfy their political masters in the SNP.
Lord Reith – a Scotsman – created the BBC to speak to the nation of Great Britain, not the niches of Great Britain.
All independent surveys and polls in Scotland show that Scots treasure and support the BBC. The Scottish Social Attitudes Survey tells us 61% do not want a separate BBC television service. There is little appetite for the SNP's broadcasting agenda.
Focus groups are constantly against the idea of a "Scottish Six".
Scotland already has a perfectly good BBC news programme in Reporting Scotland.
We are aware that the Scottish Nationalists protested outside, and verbally assaulted, the BBC Scotland offices in Glasgow on the 14 September 2014 prior to the referendum. While this would have upset your staff, we plead with you not to be intimidated by, or give in to, such totalitarian and anti-free speech attitudes, which sadly are all part and parcel of the Scottish Nationalist mindset.
The SNP has a very centralising political philosophy. Any control it achieves will be used to further centralise its control over you.
The BBC should respect the wishes of the majority who voted to stay part of the UK, and with that to stay part of the overall British public service broadcasting system.
For many people, especially young children who will be in bed by the time of the later news, the early evening BBC News is our window into the world. It would be wrong to restrict their view of the UK, and the world, with this Scotland-centric approach.
Just because you don't hear from the silent majority of pro-BBC Scots does not mean that we don't exist. There are more of us here than you might think – but if you only ever listen to the constant moaning of the SNP then you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise!
Please do not ignore the pro-British majority in Scotland.
ADDRESSES TO CONTACT
1. The Director General
The Director General of the BBC is Lord Hall (Tony Hall). He is the editorial, operational and creative leader of the organisation, with responsibility for the Corporation’s global workforce and all of the BBC's services across television, radio and online.
He can be contacted at:
The Lord Hall of Birkenhead CBE
BBC Director General
If you are emailing, please address your correspondence to him at firstname.lastname@example.org and his secretary will forward it to him. Beginning of letter/email – Dear Lord Hall.
The specific Director of BBC Scotland, Ken MacQuarrie, has overall responsibility for BBC Scotland. It is worth letting him know your thoughts also.
Director, BBC Scotland
40 Pacific Quay
2. The BBC Trust
The Trust is the sovereign body within the BBC. It is independent from the BBC's Executive Board. Led by the Chairman, the Trust is made up of 12 Trustees, who can be found here.
Rona Fairhead (Chairman)
Sir Roger Carr (Vice-Chairman)
Elan Closs Stephens
They can all be contacted at the following address, but if you are writing to one, we suggest you write to the Chairman of the BBC Trust, Ms Rona Fairhead.
Ms Rona Fairhead, Chairman
The BBC Trust
180 Great Portland Street
You may also wish to contact Bill Matthews, who is the "Trustee for Scotland".
You can contact the secretary of the Trust at email@example.com If you are emailing, please mark your email "FAO The Trustees" or "FAO [the particular Trustee]"
Mark all correspondence "BBC Charter Review". Please note, we are not "complaining" as such – but rather we are sharing our concerns, advising and pleading.
3. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)
There are 6 ministers at the DCMS, as below.
If you are sending an email to the DCMS address, please mark it for the attention of the person you want it to be forwarded to: firstname.lastname@example.org Otherwise, please use the hard copy address as below.
If you are only writing to one, then we suggest the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.
Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
Department of Culture, Media and Sport
100 Parliament Street
(Beginning of Letter/email – Dear Mrs Bradley)
The other 5 Ministers, at the same address are:
The other 5 Ministers, at the same address are
Matt Hancock MP
Rob Wilson MP
Tracey Crouch MP
Lord Ashton of Hyde
(Beginning of letter/email – Dear Lord Ashton)
Baroness Shields, OBE
(Beginning of letter/email - Dear Lady Shields)
4. The Privy Council
The Privy Council is the mechanism through which interdepartmental agreement is reached on those items of Government business which, for historical or other reasons, fall to Ministers as Privy Counsellors rather than as Departmental Ministers – such as the BBC Royal Charter.
There are around 550 Members listed here.
Due to the large number of Members, then you may wish only to write to the head of the Council as below (or to any other Member that you think is appropriate, care of the following address) Ensure you mention that you are writing in regard to the role of the Privy Council in finalising the BBC's Royal Charter:
Rt Hon David Lidington MP
Lord President of the Council
The Privy Council Office
2 Carlton Gardens
Again if sending an email to the following address, please make it clear to whom it is intended. For example: "FAO Rt Hon David Lidington MP, Lord President of the Council."
The email is: email@example.com
ADDITIONAL PEOPLE TO CONTACT
Rt Hon Theresa May MP
10 Downing Street
(Beginning of letter/email – Dear Mrs May)
Rt Hon David Mundell MP
Secretary of State for Scotland
House of Commons
(Beginning of letter/email – Dear Mr Mundell)
Since he is not necessarily your MP, please point out that you are writing to him in his capacity as incumbent Secretary of State for Scotland (which anyone is entitled to do). Please provide your full name and address.
David Anderson MP
Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland
House of Commons
Since he is not necessarily your MP, please point out that you are writing to him in his capacity as Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland (which anyone is entitled to do). Please provide your full name and address.
USING THE BBC ONLINE COMPLAINT FORM
Complaints or Comments can be made online from this page www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/complain-online
At the moment people who are complaining are receiving the response that "Any work on this is part of the ongoing review of our news output in Scotland, which is considering a variety of ideas across all our platforms. No decisions have been reached at this stage while we are conducting the review."
Therefore, decisions are still to be made. This means it is well worth your time to give them your opinion!
They also note that, "We've shared your feedback with our colleagues in BBC News and Current Affairs. Furthermore, your comments have been fully registered on our daily audience log. This internal document is made available to all our production teams and senior BBC management."
The following letter appeared in the Scottish Daily Mail of 23 February 2016 (p.52) under the title Great Scottish Rip-off
READING John MacLeod (Mail) on the SNP's outrageous plans to subvert BBC Scotland, I was reminded of a very funny sketch featuring the one phrase which struck fear into his heart as an adolescent TV viewer: 'Except for viewers in Scotland, who have their own programme.'
As befits 'Project Grievance', the Nats like to complain that, compared to the rest of the home nations, Scots are short-changed by Auntie Beeb although 83 per cent of Scots watch BBC programmes every week, 1 per cent higher than the rest of the UK.
The Scottish Government thinks we should enjoy programmes such as Strictly, Top Gear and Sherlock, not to mention the BBC's world-renowned natural history output, radio networks and the brilliant iPlayer, without making a contribution to their costs, as the £323million raised from Scottish licence fee payers will be retained here.
Never mind The Great British Bake Off, this is The Great Scottish Rip-off.
One of the BBC's main faults is its bureaucratic nature and I can only see this increasing in a devolved Scottish BBC, particularly as a separate Scottish Six TV bulletin is a key policy proposal; I'm struggling to see how, for instance, the US presidential election can be interpreted from a Scottish perspective without duplicating precious resources.
Another Scottish Government proposal is that BBC delivers the same level of in-house programming to BBC Alba as it does to Welsh language channel S4C. However, this conveniently ignores the fact that 23 per cent of people in Wales speak the Welsh language against the minuscule 1.1 per cent of Scots who have the Gaelic.
No matter how the Scottish Government spins its vision for BBC Scotland, there is no disguising the fact that this is an attempt to create a de facto Scottish Broadcasting Corporation whose primary responsibility will not be to the viewers but to Holyrood.
Jonathan Mitchell, via email.
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