As long suspected by Scotland's pro-independence ‘Yes‘ campaigners a new report has confirmed BBC bias toward the ‘No‘ camp. The two main culprits are the BBC and STV according to the new academic study carried out by researchers at University of West Scotland as reported by ‘newsnetscotland‘ http://www.newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-news/8598-broadcasters.... The results of the study, written by Dr John Robertson, highlight how more time is given to anti-independence statements than pro-independence statements. The research looked at early evening news coverage by the BBC and STV between September 2012 and September 2013.
Amongst the alarming findings were-Ending broadcasts with unchallenged anti-independence claims happened on BBC Scotland 28 times against 8 times in regard to pro-independence claims. On STV the figure was 34 anti-independence claims against 17 pro-independence claims. Personalising arguments for independence as the wishes of Alex Salmond appeared 35 times on BBC and 34 times on STV. This did not happen with any of the No campaign's arguments. Language in broadcasts seen as insulting to pro-independence supporters happened 18 times on BBC and STV against only 3 times by both broadcasters in regard to anti-independence campaigners. Statements using academic, scientific or 'independent' evidence favoured the No campaign by 22 to 4 on BBC Scotland. On STV it was 20 to 7. News items seen as favourable to the No campaign on BBC Reporting Scotland were broadcast 272 times with just 171 in favour of the pro-independence campaign. The figures for STV were also biased with the 255 for No and 172 for Yes.
Dr Robertson wrote in his report that: "One obvious explanation lies in the editorial decision to allow all three anti-independence parties to respond to each SNP statement creating an unavoidable predominance of statements from the former even when these were kept short."
The report which goes on to to look at a number of aspects of broadcast coverage so far concluded: "So, on the objective evidence presented here, the mainstream TV coverage of the first year of the independence referendum campaigns has not been fair or balanced. Taken together, we have evidence of coverage which seems likely to have damaged the Yes campaign."
This not the first time that the BBC’s news reports have come under fire for unbalanced coverage. After investigating a news report on Reporting Scotland last year, the BBC Trust found BBC Scotland guilty of breaking editorial guidelines on accuracy. This was after the news item suggested Irish Minister Lucinda Creighton believed a newly independent Scotland would lose its EU membership.
After the broadcast Lucinda Creighton denied she had made any such suggestion. BBC Scotland then compounded the issue with a news blackout of the Irish Minister's claims that her words had been "misconstrued" and "misrepresented".
The results of the University of West Scotland study causes considerable concern that the BBC is acting as an arm of the United kingdom establishment when it supposed to be a public broadcaster funded by the Scottish people. The report makes grim reading for those hoping for fair and balanced reporting on the referendum campaign. The BBC needs to respond to these findings and take an impartial stance on the referendum debate.