Yes, we will still have a BBC

The BBC just works. We all pay our licence fee: in return we get TV without breaks for adverts: TV that pushes all the other TV companies in the UK to a higher standard.

If Scotland votes Yes in 2014 we may have cause to worry about Alex Salmond’s close relationship with the Murdochs and the plans News International may have for abolishing the BBC in an independent Scotland.

There is no reason to suppose we would have to lose the BBC. Indeed, as Jennifer Dempsie pointed out in March, the direct revenue from the licence fee to programmes made in Scotland at what I suppose we would then call the SBC, would actually go up.

Nationalist or Unionist, attacks on the BBC are foolish: watching the Olympics versus the Paralympics, we saw what a resource it is to have TV channels which do not interrupt coverage with adverts. The notion that we could lose access to the BBC in an independent Scotland is as foolish as calling Newsnight Newsnat.

As silly as this leaflet and its accompanying blogpost.

Better Together campaign

The blogpost is headed “The Leaflet they tried to ban” and claims

We received lawyers letters from BBC copyright officials who had been pressurised by nationalists to complain to us. We were happy to remove the BBC logo from our leaflets – but if they think we will be silenced they have another thing [sic] coming.

So you used the BBC logo without asking their permission on a leaflet that could give the impression that the BBC was endorsing a political campaign, and you think the BBC needed to be pressurised by nationalists to write to you to tell you not to do that?

Goodness. Don’t you have any professional communication officers working at Better Together? Apparently not. Don’t worry, Yes Scotland didn’t have any either their first week and look how well they’re doing.

Ahem. Moving on.

Gerry Hassan wrote:

Pro-union Scotland needs to start dealing with the nature of what Britain has become; to start recognising the element of fantasy, romanticism and yes, nationalism at work in the Great British project.

Please, pro-union opinion, tell us that you recognise Britain doesn’t work for most working people, and what feasible ways you have to change it different from all those which have failed before.

If you do this, your criticisms of independence will carry more weight for being seen as serious rather than partisan, and without this, they will just be seen as posturing.

But when you claim that the BBC exercising their legal right and obligation not to have their logo endorse a political campaign is the fault of the Nationalists, and go on to claim:

They know that Scots won’t like the idea of paying an extra £100 a year licence fee, more adverts on telly, paying £44 a year to view iPlayer, or losing access to channels like cBeebies. ….. They don’t want Scots to know about their plans to switch off the BBC in Scotland.

As I dream of a better nation and believe in the BBC, if you could show that the SNP do plan to do the above – or that Salmond has done a deal with Murdoch so we’ll be watching Fox News instead of Newsnight – that’s campaign news. As it stands, it just looks like more negative campaigning based on negative speculation about what Scotland might be like if we became independent and everything went pearshaped.

Yes Scotland is unwilling to campaign positively on their concept of an independent Scotland, and Better Together is unwilling to campaign positively on their concept of the United Kingdom. All we get from either side is a screaming whine of negativity. Surely to goodness you had positive reasons for picking sides?

Update, 16th September

Sunday Herald notes and quotes:

The BBC insists anyone using its branding must obtain “prior written consent” – and Better Together failed to get it. The corporation says that because it is politically neutral it would never allow its logo to be used in a way that could give the impression it endorsed one side of the independence debate.


Filed under Elections, In The Media, Scottish Culture, Scottish Politics

3 responses to “Yes, we will still have a BBC

  1. Thanks for taking an interest. We need more blogs and bloggers engaging in the substance of this historic debate. Lots in here to respond to so will try to keep it brief-ish.

    Part of your premise is that those who do want Scotland to leave UK could engineer a situation where we as Scots continue to pay licence fee and get full BBC service. That is an interesting argument but it isn’t what we are being offered.

    You ask us to stand up the central claim. The First Minister has made it clear we would opt-out of the BBC and establish an SBC.

    For the Nationalists the BBC represents, in the words of Pete Wishart, the “institutional enemy” of the BBC, a part of a shared British identity that needs to be broken up.

    Previously the nationalists have suggested “BBC Scotland’s services would continue” but this now seems to have changed to stronger position of breaking away from the BBC entirely and establishing a separate ‘SBC’.

    In his recent speech ( ) on broadcasting Alex Salmond held up the broadcasters of Denmark and Norway as examples. Norway has a licence fee of £279.60, Denmark £239.97 compared to the BBC licence which is £145.50. The programme output of both these countries is far smaller than that of the BBC. The First Minister also used Ireland as an example. In Ireland as well as paying a licence fee ( ) the state broadcaster RTE shows advertising. This suggests we may be heading for a far higher licence fee, fewer programmes and adverts.

    Viewers in other countries cannot watch iPlayer without paying for a subscription, and even then they get a fraction of the programmes we enjoy in the UK. Irish viewers, who already pay their licence fee, have to stump up £44 every year to watch a reduced iPlayer.

    In short: we are not making this stuff up. This is all based on their policy.

    As for your question on how the complaint came from the BBC…when you get calls from journalists asking for you to respond to SNP comments on the complaint you have got from the BBC BEFORE you get the complaint from the BBC it isn’t hard to track where it came from. As for effectiveness of communications, we will leave it to others to judge whether creating a process story that gives us another opportunity to talk about an extremely unpopular consequence of Independence is good communications. Anyway, we aim to please and are always looking to improve.

    Better Together

    • There is a solid, positive case to be made about the value of the BBC as it stands – Charter and licence fee and all: and there is a solid discussion to be had about – if we voted Yes in 2014 – what we’d do with the BBC.

      But neither the leaflet, nor the blogpost I linked to, nor indeed this comment, shows any indication that the “Better Together” campaign wants to campaign honestly on the value of the BBC nor instigate a serious discussion about the BBC in Scotland post-indy.

      when you get calls from journalists asking for you to respond to SNP comments on the complaint you have got from the BBC BEFORE you get the complaint from the BBC it isn’t hard to track where it came from.

      No acknowledgement then that it was an extremely silly thing to do, to make use of the BBC logo without getting BBC permission – and monstrously foolish to then call this “the leaflet they tried to ban”?

      Look, I think the BBC is one of the best arguments for staying in the UK, I really do. But you totally waste that argument with the foolish idea that if the BBC won’t let you use their logo on a political leaflet (and won’t let anyone use their logo without their permission) this means you’re being silenced. You’re not. You’re just being unprofessional communicators.

      Anyway, we aim to please and are always looking to improve.

      Good. Edit the blogpost.

    • To be fair (re last night’s comment) you are not, of course, trying to have a serious discussion but run a political campaign. Which is why the BBC couldn’t let you use their logo.

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