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By Jason Michael
All we wanted was a news programme for Scotland that was produced and edited in Scotland, reflecting the concerns of our own country. What we got in the end from the BBC was a whole new channel devised to keep Scotland up late and in the dark.
Unless you happen to be living on the remotest island of the Outer Hebrides and stuck in a seventeenth century time warp there is nothing new at nine o’clock at night. News travels fast these days, and even in the wilds of the Western Isles of Scotland people have broadband. Sure, the six hundred and odd islanders on Unst in Shetland knew that IAC in New York had sacked Justine Sacco before she had landed in South Africa and turned her phone back on. Yet none of the wonders of the high speed communication revolution have stopped the BBC in London ditching the idea of a prime-time six o’clock news programme produced in Scotland in favour of a whole new Scottish channel – BBC Scotland – with an hour long news programme at nine o’clock.
It’s no secret that evening television isn’t made for the “Netflix and Chill” generation, what with box sets and Tinder. After seven the telly is for the silver foxes living life from one Inspector Morse rerun to another and that chunk of the baby-boomer cohort convinced that some guy in Siberia will pinch their credit card details the minute they turn on the Wi-Fi. When it comes to broadcasting in this country everyone knows that it’s all about the politics of independence, and controlling what’s on the box and when it’s on is how the BBC bosses and their masters plan on keeping Scotland British. People over 65 vote, they vote more than all the younger age brackets, they watch the BBC, they are less likely to get their news online, and they are more likely to be in bed by nine.
So there it is; Westminster’s big concession to broadcasting and news in Scotland. It will start every night at seven – when most folk have already started tuning out – and finish at midnight, and no doubt with a blast of that tiresome hymn for the salvation of Mrs. Windsor. The budget too sounds every bit as generous. Lord Hall of Birdenhead – formerly just Tony Hall – looked as though he had single-handedly saved Christmas when he announced that this new propaganda tool will have a budget of £30m for 1,825 hours of British Bullshit Corporation. When we consider that the Bake Off has a budget of £25m per season – that’s 11 whole hours of sticky fingers and fairy cakes – the true nature of the lip service becomes apparent.
Unionists are forever chanting that the independentistas’ fight for Scotland is little more than a list of grievances and they might have a point, we have a fair bit to be aggrieved about. Only in the later part of the last year of the last independence campaign did we have a single Sunday edition of a single newspaper willing to give the Yes campaign a fair hearing. Since then we have The National, but even that – as good as it is – is London owned. We have nothing on national radio or television, and it is still the case that media will have a huge effect on the result of the next referendum. As far as I am aware there is only one magazine owned and produced in Scotland prepared to give ink to the case for independence – iScot – and it’s struggling.
Those hardy PC gaming pioneers of my vintage may remember Sid Meier’s Civilization 1994 spin-off Colonization. You were building a colony in the “New World,” developing it with skilled labour and an infrastructure, before fighting a war of independence with a transatlantic monarch. Anyone familiar with this – by the way of an apt analogy – will know that printing presses and newspapers were essential to winning the game. When the next referendum comes we have no option but to win the game. Failure means kissing the dream goodbye for possibly the rest of our lives. We need media, but right now we don’t have it. We are utterly dominated by a unionist media machine that is committed to keeping Scottish voters in the dark. Supporting pro-independence – or at least impartial – media must be at the very top of our priority list, and the time to start doing this is now.
New BBC Scotland News hour Autumn 2018- but no Scottish Six