THE majority of people in Scotland do not think the BBC has done a good job of reporting on the impacts of Brexit on the country, exclusive polling for the Sunday National has revealed.
A nationally representative survey of Scottish adults conducted for this paper by the British Polling Council registered firm Find Out Now asked to what extent people thought the BBC had "reported accurately on the impacts of Brexit on Scotland”.
The poll found that a plurality of people (30%) thought the BBC had done “not very” well at reporting accurately on Brexit’s impact. A further 23% said the broadcaster had “not at all” accurately represented the impacts.
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At the other end of the spectrum, just 3% of respondents said they thought the BBC had “very” accurately reported on the effects of leaving the EU. A further 15% said they thought the corporation had “somewhat” accurately reported on its impacts.
The second largest group (25% of respondents) said they did not know how well the BBC had done, while the final 4% said they would prefer not to say.
The BBC did not respond to the Sunday National when it was sent the findings of the poll and asked to comment.
SNP MSP Jenni Minto (below) said the polling made clear that the BBC could “better serve” audiences north of the Border.
She told this paper: “Brexit continues to be an unmitigated economic disaster for people and businesses in Scotland.
“It’s clear from the poll that the viewing public believe the BBC could better serve audiences in Scotland with a clearer focus on the hugely damaging consequences of Scotland being dragged out of the EU.
“Leaving the EU was a Westminster imposed act of self-harm – and the only way Scotland can get back into Europe is by becoming an independent country.”
In the 2016 referendum, Scotland voted by 62% to 38% to Remain. Every local authority area in the country rejected the Leave vote which triumphed south of the Border.
A separate poll to the Sunday National’s, conducted by Survation and published on Friday, suggested that the Remain victory would be even more pronounced should the referendum be re-run. It found that Scots who back Remain outnumber those who back Leave by two to one.
The Alba Party’s general secretary, Chris McEleny, said that it was “no surprise that Scots don’t trust the BBC on Brexit, after all it was the BBC that consistently beamed Ukip and then the Brexit Party into Scottish households more so than any other party in the years surrounding the Brexit referendum”.
He went on: “The BBC’s London bosses are consistently chopping away at the BBC in Scotland. Right now they are considering scrapping daytime content to supplant it with generic afternoon content to give us regular updates about traffic on the M25. The BBC in London seizes hundreds of millions of pounds from Scotland and sends back a fraction to Glasgow.
“We can’t wait for independence to get a public broadcaster that serves Scotland, it’s time for the immediate full devolution of broadcasting so that all money raised in Scotland stays in Scotland to be spent on Scottish content as part of a new independent Scottish Broadcasting Corporation.”
Last year, former No 10 communications chief Alastair Campbell suggested to The National that there may have been “some sort of policy decision” to reduce mention of Brexit in BBC reporting.
He said at the time: “I think the BBC knows that the Government doesn’t want them to bang on about Brexit and so they don’t. That’s how Orwellian intimidation works.”
Speaking at a Business for Scotland event on Thursday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said there was a “conspiracy of silence” about Brexit’s impacts from the two biggest UK parties: the Tories and Labour.
Former top BBC Scotland correspondent Ken Macdonald said the poll highlighted reputational issues for the broadcaster.
He told The National: "The BBC built its reputation on trust in its journalism. This poll suggests that many Scots don't trust it any more. Why could that be?
"Its chairman Sir Richard Sharp has given more than £400,000 to the Conservative Party and is a former advisor to Boris Johnson. Just last month he said the BBC had a liberal bias but the institution was "fighting against it". He didn't disclose how it was doing that.
"Director-General Tim Davie is a former Tory candidate who was deputy chairman of his local Conservative party.
"The BBC Board includes Sir Robbie Gibb, a former head of the BBC's political programmes who left the corporation to become Theresa May's director of communications at 10 Downing Street. He once said the BBC had been captured by the woke-dominated groupthink of some of its own staff.
"They all sit on a Board charged with upholding and protecting the independence of the corporation.
"I can't say if there's some kind of BBC news blackout on covering the damage caused by Brexit.
"But it's not a good look for an outfit that built its reputation on impartiality."
Macdonald has been working with Lesley Riddoch, who spearheaded the Time for Scotland (TfS) group, on a series of videos highlighting the impact of Brexit – sparked by the lack of coverage in the media.
TfS will hold a rally in Edinburgh on January 31, to mark Brexit day, and Scots are being urged to pre-purchase a torch/flare online to send a clear “keep a light on” signal to the world at a torchlit procession to the event.
Riddoch said: “This poll finding comes as no surprise. Two weeks ago I was contacted by a film crew from French public TV, looking for contacts in farming, fishing, hotels and academia to let French viewers understand how Brexit has adversely affected Scots in the run-up to the Lights On rally, on January 31.
“Their request made me realise nothing like that is being done here by our own broadcasters. So TfS has been out doing interviews ourselves, thanks to the voluntary efforts of filmmaker Stewart Kerr Brown and former BBC Scotland presenter Ken Macdonald.
“We’re releasing a clip in partnership with the Sunday National that will be the first of many we'll be posting on social media over the next week.
“But why isn't this an opportunity for a publicly funded broadcaster like the BBC to do in-depth coverage? I hope I'll be proved wrong and BBC Scotland has a big Brexit effort planned. If not, we can conclude there's a broadcasting consensus supporting Scottish Secretary Alister Jack who asserted recently that Scots don't really care about Europe or being hoiked out against our will.
“The only way for Yessers to correct this 'apathy' narrative is to come to the Time for Scotland procession and rally in Holyrood Park on Tuesday, January 31, and pre-purchase a torch/flare via https://timeforscotland.scot/edinburgh-rally.”
The Find Out Now poll was conducted from January 11-18. It asked 1094 Scottish adults.