Disclaimer One: This piece of ranty polemic contains swear words. Lots of swear words. If you don’t like swear words – fuck off.
Disclaimer Two: This piece of ranty polemic takes aim at the structure and attitudes of the BBC and BBC Scotland in general. It does not seek to insult ordinary individuals working within either organisation who no doubt work hard and are proud of what they make. If you cannot comprehend this difference then you’re a fucking idiot.
Come in, sit down, we need to have another chat. You see, our ‘national’ broadcaster is once again acting like a total arsehole. Many of you will not be surprised in the least by this as BBC Scotland, in its output, coverage and balance, has been at best ‘poor’ due to financial constraints, and at worst deliberately shite due to a structural bias. The end result is a broadcaster which treats itself and the citizens of the country it serves as if it were nothing more an outpost in a colony.
Yes, I know, we’re not allowed to say ‘colony’ or ‘imperialism’ because white, middle-class ‘British’ journalists and opinion weavers throw a hissy fit at being reminded of Britain’s less-than-prestigious past. That’s despite the fact that a significant portion of the British populous are actually quite proud of the old empire. Yes, with brute force, murder, concentration camps, forced starvation (and a whole host of other insidious and horrific tactics) we subdued half the world and stole their shit. But we brought them Shakespeare! We taught them how to speak the Queen’s! Bloody brown folk. Never grateful.
Nearly every previous colony under British rule has had some form of ‘post-colonial’ theory applied to it from the likes of Edward Said or Fannon, but hey, Scotland really shouldn’t be doing anything of that naughty thinking stuff! #WheeshtForGreatBritain
Because of the attitude of Pacific Quay there are waves of ire that descend upon it like clockwork. These were exacerbated by – depending on how you look at it – a series of deliberate attempts at skewing the referendum debate and coverage, or a series of deliberate (and mind-numbingly fucking stupid) decisions which shut down debate and ended up treating the referendum with more than a bit of contempt (the BBC’s own findings show they’re aware they were ‘late to the game’, so to speak). But due to this perceived imbalance, Scotland’s alternative media rose, and isn’t that something?
Criticisms of BBC Scotland are often dismissed as tinfoil-hat zoomery by those fucking nationalist bastards who are never happy about anything. You know, the types of zealous twats whose regional hobby is ‘grievance hunting’. It’s not a hard hobby though, considering legitimate ‘grievances’ seem to appear on your doorstep with the regularity of healthy bowel movements. Not much hunting is actually required. It’s the equivalent of trying to catch Pokémon with a limitless supply of master pokéballs. And while there are those who, in my opinion, are a wee bit too fucking obsessed with the bias at BBC Scotland for their own bloody good, most folk ignore the fracking thing (only 48% of Scots polled by the BBC think that BBC Scotland serves and reflects the country.)
And this brings us to the sorry fucking state of the BBC Scotland budget. Of the £323 million raised in Scotland through the licence fee in 2013/14, the actual amount spent on Scottish television programming was £35 million. Yes, you did read that right. A little over a tenth of the money raised in Scotland is actually spent on producing Scottish television content. This figure has of course been fudged to utter fuck by the Beeb’s higher-ups to include ‘lift and shift’ programming – you know, English shows that are ‘produced’ in Scotland but whose staff are dropped in from England. Shows which offer fucking nada to Scottish culture. Judge for yourself whether Mrs Brows Boys and Waterloo-fucking-Road say anything about…you know…Scotland. But hey, the way these shows are produced ticks all the boxes required by OfCom, so fuck it, let’s refer to it as ‘Scottish programming’. Wink, wink.
This ‘lift and shift’ amounts to around £70-80 million of the Scottish budget. Think on that. If that money was used to produce, nurture, and grow Scottish talent, creating shows that in some way reflected Scotland and its people, as well as investing in decent coverage of Scottish sport (I know, right?), we’d have over triple the budget we have now, and a fuck-ton more Scottish content. The weaselly nature of the Beeb in doing this sort of financial skulduggery is indicative of a culture of dismissal towards Scotland. A lack of confidence, a lack of belief that Scottish citizens would like to watch shows about their own country. (You know, like nearly every other country on the fucking planet does. But hey, Scotland, as always, is a meek exception.)
The country is hampered on two fronts when it comes to our arts and culture output. On one side you have Creative Scotland, who’s lack of understanding of Scotland’s arts and creative sector, and the detrimental effect that has on film, television and the arts in general, has been taken to pieces by respected Scottish artistic wankers far smarter and more involved than I am.
And on the other side you have BBC Scotland’s paltry budget and a corporate snobbery which that leaks down from the upper echelons of power, like piss through leaky floorboards, and soaks nearly every aspect of Pacific Quay’s output. There is no imagination there. No confidence to make great shows. No belief that Scottish people would watch shows about Scotland that are more than River City and whatever re-hashed west-of-Scotland comedy they can cook up.
And out come the London drones who are convinced that Scotland gets a fantastic deal and should just be fucking grateful.
“Scottish people enjoy other BBC programmes! So why are you complaining?”
So do many countries across the fucking world, you absolute muppet, and they pay considerably less for the bloody privilege. Ireland’s RTÉ buys in BBC output for around £20 million a year and American and Canadian broadcasters have similar set-ups. The notion that Scotland should just accept its shitey budget share because some people enjoy Dr Who and Strictly Come British Goatherders Cooking or Some Such Shite, isn’t a solid bloody argument.
(And I don’t know about you but on the rare occasions I catch up with the rUK’s BBC output, usually through the likes of Charlie Brooker’s Yearly Wipe, I feel as if I’m watching an entirely different country’s broadcaster. It feels utterly alien to me.)
It also reveals a bias against Scottish programming that isn’t primarily through a British lens. The higher-ups in the Beeb seem to have no belief that well-made Scottish content would be appreciated by not only Scots but by people in the rest of the UK. How fucking offensive is that? And what a cracking bloody example of yer actual narrow-minded nationalism. A country whose people are so closed-minded that the very idea of Scottish television shows, films and culture is scoffed at.
Now, to be clear, I am talking about the attitude that is shown through the actions of the Beeb’s high-heid yeins, one which I don’t think is -or would hope wouldn’t be – reflective of the rUK’s population when it comes to Scottish tele. But no, Scots should be grateful for Dr Who and Sherlock and should just stop complaining because a Scottish guy worked the lights on a set for a few weeks, and doesn’t that show how diverse the BBC is and how much it cares for the ‘regions’? (Seriously, this is a paraphrase of the attitude expressed by Lord Hall. I shit you fucking not.)
This continues with: BBC Scotland and the case of the missing bawsack – Part Two