Media in the Press 24.11.10

BBC Scotland has been cleared of bias against Rangers Football Club and their supporters, by the Corporation's own watchdog.

Reads page 5 of today’s Herald: “The BBC’s Editorial Standards Committee did not uphold a complaint about the reporting of the club and ruled there was ‘no evidence’ of sectarianism or collusion against the club or its fans operating within BBC Scotland.”

The complaint that triggered the investigation is quoted, saying there has been “constant denigration” and “negative portrayal” of Rangers and its fans. Examples of alleged bias cited included the use of the word “hun” in the sports show, Off The Ball, and an email from a listener claiming Ranger’s stadium was “inhabited by sub-humans” being read out on the Newsdrive radio programme.

A spokesperson from BBC Scotland is quoted, saying the broadcaster had “not been motivated by a desire to antagonise Rangers supporters” and that their coverage of Scottish football was “impartial across the course of the season”.

Meanwhile, the BBC is reported to have antagonised another group – this time the SNP. The party appears to have been irked when the BBC portrayed popular Scottish comedian, Ronnie Corbett, as English in an advert for the Ashes.

In today’s Scottish Sun (page 29), reporter Douglas Walker writes that Corbett “appears in a clip which is meant to portray various aspects of traditional life in England and Australia, ahead of the famous cricket contest between the countries”.

The gaffe raised the hackles of SNP MSP Sandra White, who is quoted saying that the advert is an example of “imperialism”. She continues: “It says it all really and just sums up the English mentality that they can claim any nationality as their own. Even last week Prince Charles happily went along with a question on CNN in America which referred to the King of England.”

Elsewhere, yet more controversy for the BBC. The broadcaster has raised eyebrows after approaching glamour model Katie Price – aka Jordan – to guest-edit Radio 4’s Today programme, according to today’s Scottish Daily Mail (page 5).

Writes reporter Paul Revoir: “It’s probably fair to say that when Radio 4’s Today programme talks about Jordan, it’s focusing more on the Middle East than the glamour model.”

But the news has apparently prompted fears among journalists that Price’s contribution may trivialise the programme and alienate its audience. An “experienced BBC journalist” is quoted, saying: “It is showing a certain contempt for the audience. They are quite a high-brow lot. What are they trying to say – ‘we are all hip and trendy’? It is part of this whole celebrity-chasing process that has been going on for ages.”

Staying with the Mail (page 10), the former head of the Army has attacked the BBC for its portrayal of bullying among soldiers in Afghanistan in its new drama, Accused.

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, General Lord Dannatt is quoted, saying: “As far as I’m concerned, BBC1 stands indicted for gross insensitivity while the Army is conducting difficult and sensitive operations in Afghanistan. (There was) a gross error of editorial judgement in screening the programme and, in the face of formal opposition from the head of the Army, I think it was arrogance as well.”

A few pages on (page 14), columnist, Stephen Glover, opines that opines that the BBC are guilty of “broadcasting a drama representing fictional soldiers in the most heinous light at the very time that real soldiers are risking their lives in Afghanistan.”

He adds: “For all its faults, the BBC is a great institution. Shame on it for providing a platform for the undermining of another great national institution, for colluding in a lie about it, and for depicting our soldiers as beasts or weaklings when they deserve our support and respect.”

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