Sunday, 1 November 2009

BBC Radio Scotland

RADIO Scotland

Tucked away in the Times the other day was an article entitled "Listeners desert trivial and parochial BBC Radio Scotland'. It is reported the radio station has suffered its sharpest decline in audience figures, with the loss of 125,000 listeners in a year.

The biggest losses are from its 'flagship' morning news programme according to Melanie Reid and Patrick Foster. Flagship programme? If Good Morning Scotland is Radio Scotland's flagship programme, there's really no hope for the station. GMS must be set on a 15 or 20 minute loop, relying on pre-recorded audio and newspaper headlines. There are few live interviews these days and the interesting political situation here is never discussed in any depth; in fact nothing is discussed to any degree.

Jeff Zycinski, head of BBC Radio Scotland said:

“Despite the figures we have been producing some excellent programmes throughout the summer and into the autumn. Our Edinburgh festivals output was particularly strong and we had some great output marking ten years of devolution.

“For us, quality is more important than huge audiences and it’s more important that we keep our focus on the detailed audience analysis work we’ve been doing this year and work towards our plans to refresh the schedule at the start of next year and throughout 2010.”

Auch Mr Zycinski, stop kidding yourself. You must know that listeners like myself had enough some time ago and moved to Radio 4 for a quality morning news programme, even though it is London based and doesn't report much about Scotland. My interest in the Edinburgh Festival is minimal, yet each summer many hours are dedicated to advertising individual festival shows. Throughout the month of August programmes relating to festival issues are broadcast at all times of the day. People who live a distance from Edinburgh consider most of these broadcasts to be lengthy promotions or 'luv-ins' and switch off.

The station, having decided to go downmarket for some reason, is now missing its identity which was to provide Scotland with a balance of cultural content, informed discussion and coverage of the arts. Now we have a schedule which appears to consist of comedy, folk music and chat. Even the best of its current affairs programmes relies heavily on the public phoning in, traffic news and text messages.

The station's lack of quality presenters does nothing to enhance their programmes. Lesley Riddoch was unceremoniously dumped from the Friday lunchtime slot, although I note the unequivocal Brian Taylor has valiantly stepped into the breach, but I truthfully couldn't name any other presenter without someone giving me a clue. Oh I lie! There's Glen Campbell, possibly the most biased interviewer I've heard on a radio station for many years and certainly one person who encourages me to change channels.

Why has this happened? Is it that listeners in Scotland, unlike those in England, have no great interest in challenging or intelligent programmes? Is it part of the dumbing down of our society?

Radio Scotland has a duty to the whole of the nation - not just a narrow segment of it.


Oldrightie said...

There is a limit at which propaganda no longer works.

Debate is Free said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Debate is Free said...

The state of the media in Scotland was what made me try and have a go at doing it myself. It's very rough my work but you would hope I would get better and more confident as time goes by.

I do try and be impartial and give everyone a chance from the parties while asking questions but I will admit its not as easy as it looks.

This however is not an excuse for the fall in standards at BBC Scotland.

cynicalHighlander said...

Blatantly Biased Corporation.

Allan said...

Not quite sure if it's propaganda, rather than dumbed down ineptitude (I don't remember Salmond being challanged on Trumptown or a pre-election pledge to improve public transport being quietly dumped). Describing GMS as "Trivial" is much more on the money than "parochial" (which Today always strike's me as being with its focus on the concerns of Middle England).

Dramfineday said...

Having not listened to the coverage of the festival on radio I can't comment. And while I'm not a great festival goer, I still think the TV coverage of the "world's greatest art etc festival" is pathetic, ditto with the Mod - ( as a non speaker I love most of the stuff) - sorry I digress. My view is that BBC Scotland are losing listners, much like the press are losing readers, because they have not yet woken up to the changing political realities and asperations of the Scottish people. Don't like what you hear or read? Don't go there. Did it myself with the Hootsmon and Radio Glencambly.

subrosa said...

Certainly Glen Campbell pedals the unionist propaganda OR, I assure you.

subrosa said...

Thanks for the link DiF, I shall go there right away.

I know it's not easy. One of my readers tried it too but I think found it very time consuming finding people to contribute.

subrosa said...

Thanks for that CH. There's also David Vance of Biased BBC of course. He works hard at exposing biase and lies.

subrosa said...

Salmond was challenged on the Trump decision Allan, is fact much airtime was given over to his meeting with Trump if you remember. But I agree, our leaders need to be challenged far more. Of course the BBC bias towards the SNP actually helps the them because the BBC does its damnest to keep SNP airtime to a minimum.

Yes the Today programme is English based but the quality of reporting, interviewing and general content is far above Radio Scotland.

We must have people here who can do better. The most popular course in colleges is media studies and surely a few have crawled out of the mediocre majority.

subrosa said...

That's a good assessment pentland52-letters, except I disagree about the festival coverage or the majority of it. The festival programmes for me are mainly luv-ins as I said. Seldom have I actually felt as if I would actually like to see a show.

Trident said...

Subrosa, as a lifelong Radio 4 devotee I can only agree with you on the quality of output - on the few occasions I have dipped into Radio Scotland this year I've given up pretty quickly. It would be worth noting that the Today and PM programmes on Radio 4 cost more to produce than the entire Sky News budget though...

Apogee said...

Not sure that the presenters can be wholly blamed for the third rate show.The presenters are acceptable, although their style needs sharpening, it is the show content that is not.

Unless they are responsible for the news and other items, the blame falls back onto the producer/s and the program directors.Does Radio Scotland have a news room: that should be able to provide news items, up to date from this country, the world,political,etc.

Or is it more the case of a shoe-string operation where the presenters buy a copy of the local rag and then goes through it, ringing items that might fly, and then try find a victim to give a phone interview, then find someone with an opposing view to try and stir something up.
Works for a while, until the marks wake up and then it becomes hard to get people to talk.
People get used to second rate programming and it can affect their view of the world, but a lot will wake up, tune in another station and that listener's gone. This has been Radio Scotland for at least the last 30 years, down hill all the way.And it's a hell of a hard job to ever get them back.
The whole BBC Scotland operation needs revamping, honest straight reporting and interviewing, NO political bias,leave that to the interviewee.


Bill said...

I rarely listen to BBC Radio Scotland (I might flick it on for brief periods in the car, but that's about it) as I much prefer the output of Radio 4, or Radio 3 or Classic FM. In the house for radio I can't recall the last time I listened to Radio Scotland.

I have heard a few decent programmes on Radio Scotland in the afternoons (whilst driving), but for news output I find Radio 4 vastly better. The fact it happens to come from a studio in London, rather than a studio in Glasgow, makes no difference to me and I think that charges of 'parochialism' can less-easily be flung at Radio 4 than Radio Scotland - for someone like me who lives in the Highlands I feel at least as alienated (if not more so) by 'Central Belt' bias than any perceived 'Home Counties' bias, and I'd dispute the latter in any case.

Given that one of the regular presenters on Radio 4 'Today' is Scottish and one (possibly two) is/are Welsh the charge that it is English-centric is difficult to sustain, in my view. The main presenter of Radio 4 'PM' is also Scottish and is undoubtedly one of the best current affairs presenters currently on British radio. Radio 4 is 'British', I grant you, and I accept that for separation/independence-minded people that must grate; for me I find it perfectly normal, but of course I wish to see the continuation of the British state - sorry if this makes me a 'bad person' in the eyes of some, lol.

subrosa said...

Back when I was young I was a Radio 2 listener Polaris but I've changed to Radio 4 in the last decade.

Jings that does surprise me the cost of Today and PM. Presenters must be paid far more than those on Sky surely, but then Sky is repetition I suppose.

subrosa said...

Of course, editors and producers must take a large share of the responsibility Apogee.

I think it's because a few years ago they tried to appeal to a younger audience and the young ignored it.

Aye I think you're on the right track there. People do get used to slowly being fed dumbed down programmes.

After I posted this, for perhaps the first time for a long while, Glen Campbell wasn't so bitter on today's Politics Now. He was quite pleasant to Nicola Sturgeon even when Iain Gray was digging himself into a quarry.

Dark Lochnagar said...

Radio Scotland is crap. It hasn't been any good since Lesley Riddoch got the heave from the lunchtime show. I have absolutely no interest in the Festival, it could be on the moon as far as I am concerned. I like Edinburgh and I go occasionally but I wouldn't touch it with a bargepole when the festival is on.

You end up listening to Radio 4, hoping that the clock turns to 6 o'clock and you can change over to Clyde/Real for the football progs.

subrosa said...

Well we listen to similar stations except after 6 DL. :)

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