Cricket and broadcasting

Not another post about Sky (I really can’t be bothered, although it will be a shame for cricket to be away from terrestrial television), but it’s about the BBC’s regional / national / whatever news policy.

I’ve spotted two posts on this today. The comments at Freedom and Whisky are filled with people wanting a BBC England. I always found that request a bit puzzling, as I have mentioned before on this blog. See, for instance, this post (you need to scroll a bit until I start talking about BBC England).

I just don’t see what advantage a BBC England would have over the existing BBC. The reason there isn’t a BBC England is because in England they have regions. A lot of people complain about the whole concept of regions, but I don’t know what the problem is. Frankly, I’d love for Scotland to have BBC regions because that would save us from being subjected to tokenistic non-stories about sheep in the Outer Hebrides. Then they could provide something resembling a local news service. If they were to get rid of the BBC regions to be replaced with a BBC England, the viewers in Cornwall would have to endure stories about the local news in Newcastle and vice-versa. How would that help anyone?

I happen to believe that the BBC has the balance wrong though. With devolution, the 6 O’Clock News increasingly has too many Englandandwales-specific stories. I think a ‘Scottish Six’ (but keeping the 10 as a Britain-wide broadcast) as I have described in this post would do just nicely.

Of course, there are those who would like to separate the BBC into pieces completely, and this is where the SNP come in. Alex C at Land Of The Nearly Free has a little moan about how he as a Scot in uninterested in cricket which is why we should never see this stuff on the television. Well cricket is actually very popular in Scotland — see the post below.

If some SNP supporters were in charge of the airwaves we’d probably be subjected to 24 hour caber tossing and documentaries about fishermen. Or yet more Chewin’ the Fat spin-offs. I know I’d rather have the cricket thank you very much.

Hector Maclean commenting at Land Of The Nearly Free notes the killer reason why chopping up the BBC would be terrible.

…when it comes to world news I am not confident that a Scottish broadcaster could match the resources that a UK wide one has, and consequently it would not come up to the standards I as a viewer have grown accustomed to. I would therefore not wish to lose my access to UK wide broadcasts.

Indeed, you only have to look at Scottish TV who have trouble enough covering their own ITV region, never mind world news.

I thought that ITV’s regions were a lot more offensive anyway. Take the Border region for instance. Can anybody explain that? I can’t stand regional (or national, if you must) television anyway. Apart from providing a local news service (which is fair enough, especially when we’ve got devolution), all that BBC Scotland has brought us, as far as I can tell, is River City, and the most overrated ‘comedy’ show known to man, Chewin’ the Fat. As for Scottish TV… well, the sooner it’s swalled up by ITV plc, the better.


  1. The post of mine to which you refer of course was made to criticise Ms Grahame’s timing, as I felt that her personal point about allowing trivia such as sport to move from merely featuring on the news to utterly dominating it would be lost as British Nationalists would elect to ignore that and proceed to indulge in the usual SNP-bashing facto-phobic rants which are so tediously familiar.

    Following on your comments regarding your hope that Scotland’s last surviving independent media company be taken over by the makers of Essex Wives, Celebrity Wrestling and Celebrity Shark Bait, as well as shoehorning in Outer Hebridean sheep and caber-tossing can I just say thanks for exemplifying that so nicely. 🙂

  2. Hmm, do you think STV is actually good then? I’ll admit that ITV is pretty stinky, but STV is a bit of a mess at the moment. (I don’t care that SMG is the last independent media company in Scotland, even if it is. All I care about is that it’s good.)

  3. You may not care whether they remain independent – the many hundreds who work there, and the city of Glasgow’s economy do. Still, globalization is a Good Thing, so that’s fine. If ITV has to destroy any commitment to regional programming, training and education and essentially centralize the UK’s broadcasting culture in one city in order to subsidise the fact they appointed accountants instead of programme makers to their board, then so be it.

    Are STV any good? Difficult to tell; every time they make a show which isn’t to be shown on the ITV network they are financially penalised by ITV plc for deviating from the designated schedule. How do you judge a TV company when it doesn’t own its own airwaves? Hence the reason for the “bit of a mess at the moment”.

    However bad they are, they are nowhere near as bad as ITV as a whole. This company has haemhorraged viewers as quickly as it’s lost share capital. But then, so long as they dedicate a huge tranche of their news output to games like cricket and football there are those who will forgive them anything, including continually opting for the lowest common denominator.

  4. I think you’ll find it’s the other way about. ITV would love to own STV’s airwaves. STV are under no obligation to do anything that ITV tells them (if anything, it’s the other way about — ITV plc had to beg SMG and UTV to let them use the ITV name). You said it yourself — SMG is independent. Have a read.

    The only reason STV make regional programmes is because of the quota which Ofcom sets them. STV likes to fill this quota by doing and spending as little as possible though, explaining the shameless repeats of Weir’s Way every night for years running.

    And I never thought I’d be defending ITV. But there is a simple reason why they have lost viewers. Whereas a couple of decades ago there were only four channels, today there are well over four hundred. Even if ITV was showing the best television programmes, it would be amazing if it didn’t lose viewers.

  5. I think you have an odd idea as to how to define the word “beg”. For example, when ITV set up ITV2 they simply began broadcasting over the regional digital channels which preceded it. Including S2, which was rude, given that they didn’t bother to tell “independent” SMG. Some weeks later SMG’s board received an apology, and a cheque contributing to the necessary redundancy payments of the staff who had just been laid off.

    ITV owns “network programming”. If any “region” elects to show something other than this (beyond the tiny OFCOM obligations), that region has to “compensate” ITV plc for “loss of projected advertising revenue”, ie, a levy on those who seek control over their “own” airwaves.

    Your point about ITV’s “understandable” loss of viewers in the face of Sky etc misses the point, unsurprisingly. Ten years ago, ITV had a 52% audience share amongst terrestrial broadcasters. That is now down to something like 29%. ITV is now regularly beaten by BBC2, Channel 4 and even occasionally by Five. Despite your lengthy and obdurate defence of their programming failures and diminution of serious journalism in their news (and documentary) output, it is a failing company, even in an oligopolistic market. Much like UK plc.

  6. Your story about ITV2 is, plainly and simply, a lie. SMG sold S2 to Carlton and Granada because S2 was a failure. SMG couldn’t wait to offload it.

    An SMG spokesman said: “We were always sympathetic about what Granada and Carlton wanted to achieve with the brand. The disagreement was about receiving adequate compensation, which is what we now have.”

    There’s your brave independent Scottish broadcaster for you.

    ITV has always been occasionally beaten by the smaller channels. But all of the analogue terrestrial channels are losing audiences. BBC One and Channel 4 have both hit the headlines this year with record low ratings (BBC One’s record low was achieved when Channel 4 was showing the cricket, incidentally — so much for it being a minority sport).

    If you want to talk ratings (not my preferred barometer, but never mind), ITV2 and ITV3 (channels free of regional quotas and the like) are now the second and third most popular ‘multi channel’ offerings, behind only Sky One. The success of ITV3 is particularly stunning given that the channel is only a few months old.

    Would you care to tell me what wonderful regional programmes STV has been broadcasting in recent years? I think programmes like Moviejuice hardly count — all about American pop culture, nothing to do with Scotland. As for “lowest common denominator” programming, did you know that SMG produced Club Reps?

    As for UK plc, I think it is very well known that Scotland is the underperforming area in that.