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Saturday, November 28, 1998 Published at 11:19 GMT


Protest over Scottish TV news

BBC governors are not in favour of a Scottish Six O'Clock News

A row at the BBC over a Scottish version of the Six O'Clock News has intensified.

The BBC's Media correspondent Nick Higham reports on the arguments
Eight presenters of news and current affairs programmes on the BBC in Scotland have signed a letter to national newspapers demanding their own version of the national programme.

They say much of what is transmitted on the news programme from London is irrelevant to Scottish people who have their own health, education and legal system. They believe a Glasgow-based edition would better reflect the priorities of its audience.

The BBC governors have said they would prefer to see a revamped, hour-long news show for the whole of the UK, rather than a special programme for Scotland.

Nationalism fear

One of the signatories, Ian McWhirter, pointed out that future coverage of a devolved Scottish parliament on a UK-wide programme might bore viewers in England.

He said the BBC had been lobbied by cabinet ministers who feared a Scottish Six O'Clock News would encourage nationalism.

Instead, he said, the BBC had given the Scottish National Party a propaganda opportunity.

The letter said: "A Scottish Six as envisaged would not be a parochial poor relation. It would give viewers unrestricted access to international and national news from the BBC's unrivalled network of correspondents."

On Thursday, the BBC's head of news in Scotland joined the call for a Scottish programme. And the BBC's advisers, the Broadcasting Council, said proposals for a revamped UK-wide Six O'Clock News were totally inadequate.

Last week a BBC adviser, Professor Lindsay Patterson, resigned over the corporation's reluctance to allow Scotland to have its own Six O'Clock News.

He said that with Scottish devolution imminent, indigenous news was "essential to improving the democratic debate".

There are also signs of discontent in Wales. The Broadcasting Council there says it wants an urgent review of the BBC's proposals for news.

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