If you were working for an organisation with a public service charter and that organisation started to behave in ways which didn’t reflect that, what would you do about it? The BBC is such an organisation. People inside the Corporation sometimes forget that.
They are literally not allowed to be biased.
The nature of the BBC is to be impartial.
Sometimes they even take that requirement too far.
During the Brexit referendum, the Stronger In campaign would frequently complain that they would put up experts and that the Leave campaign would put up cranks, and both would be given equal airtime under “impartiality rules.” Such was their commitment to trying to find a middle ground that they ended up legitimising some real nutcases.
Better that, in some ways, than to slant their coverage so that it even appears to be biased. Neutrals who work at the BBC had issues with the way they covered Brexit, but none of them would have been happy in the slightest to see it become totally one sided.
I don’t know if BBC Sport Scotland even has neutrals working in it. I mean, you’d think it must have. You’d think that it really has to. But nobody can be in the slightest doubt that editorial policy has become completely screwed up somewhere down the line.
When you tune in at the weekend now you are met with almost wall to wall coverage from an Ibrox point of view, and I don’t care that Pat Bonner is on there or that Chris McLaughlin has a well-known and well debated ban from that ground. I don’t even care that the BBC doesn’t offer commentary from their home games because of all this.
There are enough ex-Ibrox players on their panels and commentary teams that any neutral observer would be struck by it. That some of their staff have openly declared themselves to be fans of that club is even more ridiculous.
Tom English can get a pull for breaching editorial standards for a tweet slagging our club – he deserved it, by the way – but on the other hand, Kenny McIntyre can advertise his bias without it being regarded as a problem.
Since when does that meet their criteria?
Since when is that acceptable?
Only in organisation which seems to value a playing career there above every other qualification would it even be a factor.
But when you can put three of their former footballers on a panel to dissect decisions at a Celtic game then I guess you’ve abandoned even the pretence of neutrality.
So how do the genuine neutrals feel about it? Where are they in all this?
When STV signed a commercial agreement with Rangers just prior to their liquidation a lot of the journalists there were openly furious and briefed the papers that they felt that it violated their professional integrity.
The BBC isn’t even a commercial organisation … it’s funded by the tax payer. How do its own Scottish staff feel about a sports department so jaundiced in its outlook? And let’s not kid on that it’s not, because it clearly is. Even with the best will in the world, if you fill an organisation with people who only lean one way that organisation will do the same.
You only have to look at the coverage Celtic gets to see that this is exactly what has happened.
The BBC is already in a lot of trouble. It needs a robust level of public support to survive the coming onslaught by this government, so if the neutrals at BBC Sport Scotland aren’t speaking up then I’d suggest they are taking a very big risk.
Because if the license fee goes then cuts are inevitable, and their bosses have already demonstrated what its own priorities are.
If they are going for a pro-Ibrox slant then it’s the neutrals who will be first to be pushed out the door; their position is even more precarious than that of those with Celtic leanings, who are necessary just so the show appears to have balance.
At this moment in time, I don’t know a single Celtic fan who will defend the status quo at the national broadcaster. I don’t know a single one who would defend the license fee from attacks, because really, who wants to pay the license fee to listen to the kind of “commentary” which has become all too prevalent on there?
During Celtic’s home win against St Mirren, I listened to the game at Perth and in their studio they had Kenny Miller and every other word he used was “we” or “us”, words which I thought were entirely forbidden from the BBC lexicon.
I was not even surprised to hear such open bias on display; too many people there no longer feel they need to even behave professionally, far less objectively.
And that has to change, and that change has to come from inside the walls. Celtic fans can protest all they want. But it’s up to those who have allowed this cultural drift to happen to get the organisation back on track before it’s too late, before any support they have left is gone.
In case people there haven’t noticed, the Ibrox fan-base despises them in spite of the slanted coverage. Now Celtic fans are starting to as well. The neutrals must know how bad it’s gotten, and if they do then they are the next to go.
How bad does the audience share have to get? How low does the credibility have to sink? When it comes time for the government’s “review” into staffing and funding, how can an organisation which is distrusted and hated hope to prosper?
BBC Sport Scotland is a disgrace, and it needs to get its act together, for its own sake, even if it does treat its audience with utter contempt.