GLASGOW, August 19 (RIA Novosti), Mark Hirst – BBC displays signs of “bias by omission” against Scottish independence, said media studies professor at the University of the West of Scotland John Robertson in his coverage of the Scottish independence referendum.
“When my research revealing BBC bias against the Yes campaign was published, several people correctly identified that I had not exposed the way good news stories about Scottish independence were often ignored by the BBC,” Robertson told RIA Novosti.
Earlier this year, Professor John Robertson published a detailed paper following a yearlong study examining the issue of bias by the BBC and has followed that research up with a new study.
“At the time, I knew that to do so would make it easy for critics to accuse me of selection bias. It’s more objective to simply look at what is broadcast and find what is there in the editorial selection and in presentation so that is what I did,” Robertson added.
“But my critics were correct in that bias by omission is a very important form of bias,” Robertson said.
The BBC’s Scottish headquarters in Glasgow have recently experienced a series of mass demonstrations with thousands of protesters complaining that the British state media giant is biased against the pro-independence campaign.
Robertson cited a number of examples where the BBC, the biggest media organization in Scotland, had ignored stories that would be considered positive to the Yes campaign.
“An interview by the Financial Times with the former Royal Bank of Scotland Chief Executive and Chairman Sir George Mathewson, who said that independence would not, contrary to ‘expert’ opinion promoted by the BBC, ‘threaten Scottish banks’ was not covered,” Robertson said. “There are many other examples.”
The academic says his research shows there are three main themes emerging from the BBC’s coverage which give added weight to the anti-independence side but where the state broadcaster ignores counter-arguments.
“There are three areas where the BBC gives greater emphasis to the No campaign and ignores expert opinion that offers an alternative opinion,” Robertson said. “On the issue of what currency an independent Scotland would use, on the impact to Scotland’s financial services industry and on the question of detail – specifically what will happen if there is a Yes vote, with no focus on what happens if there is a No vote.”
Last month, the Audience Council Scotland, which advises the BBC Trust on the quality of broadcasting output, concluded that the news organization was, “not able to fully reflect the needs of audiences in contemporary Scotland.”