To no real surprise the BBC have ducked away from answering the mountain of complaints that they received for the Scottish Cup Final coverage.
Once presenter Rob McLean had accused Celtic supporters of singing sectarian songs Pat Nevin was happy to join in the criticism and promised to raise the issue at any match he hears sectarian songs.
Since NO sectarian songs were sung by Celtic fans at the match thousands of fans contacted the BBC for clarity on the issue.
The two main points of complain were over which songs the BBC heard and claimed to be sectarian and who decided that the subject was worthy of interrupting Craig Levein’s half-time analysis to discuss.
Since the day of the Scottish Cup Final BBC Scotland haven’t said a single word about sectarian singing from the Celtic supporters and there is no evidence that they reported the incidents to Strathclyde Police.
The BBC had previously claimed not to get involved in this subject during their live matches and that was certainly true of the coverage of March’s Co-Operative Cup Final between Celtic and Rangers.
Today, after almost three weeks of waiting the BBC finally decided to respond to the complaints they received although it would be stretching the truth to claim that they answered the complaints.
“Thanks for contacting BBC Complaints. Please accept our apologies for the delay in replying; we know our viewers appreciate a quick response and we’re sorry that you’ve had to wait on this occasion.
We have received a number of comments concerning the half-time discussion at this year’s Scottish Cup Final, to which BBC Scotland has offered a response on the points raised, as below.
At the half time interval of our live television broadcast of this year’s Scottish Cup Final the presenter and one of the guests briefly mentioned that sectarian singing had been heard coming from a minority of Celtic fans.
Given the incidents of recent weeks, and taking into account the statement by Neil Lennon posted on the club’s official website just days before the Final, it was editorially appropriate to include this short discussion.
Sectarianism and associated behaviours have been the topic of much comment this season and five editions of Sportscene in April and May took time to debate the issue in relation to the general problem and to specific incidents such as the sending of parcel bombs and the fining of Rangers FC by UEFA.
There is a continuing debate around the definition of “sectarian” and we accept that it would have been more accurate for our presenter to refer to “songs that some people believe to be an expression of sectarianism but which many people nonetheless find both offensive and provocative”.
There is no doubt that the issue of sectarianism in Scotland has moved into a new phase since the events of April and May, with the First Minister asserting that tackling it in all its forms will be a priority for the new government.
BBC Scotland will continue to report on this and all other areas of public interest and debate in a fair and balanced manner over time. We can also assure you that your concerns have been registered on our audience log; this is a daily report of audience feedback that’s made available to many BBC staff, including members of the BBC Executive Board, channel controllers and other senior managers.”
That bland statement contains many inaccuracies and avoids the two main questions of what songs did the BBC find sectarian and whose decision was it that it was worth highlighting at half-time.
One obvious error was the claim that ‘the presenter and one of the guests briefly mentioned that sectarian singing had been heard coming from a minority of Celtic fans’.
The word minority was not used.
While the BBC remain another level of unwelcome tax they really should ensure that their employees know what they are talking about and have the guts to apologise when they are clearly in the wrong.
If they wish to introduce flannel like ‘There is a continuing debate around the definition of “sectarian” and we accept that it would have been more accurate for our presenter to refer to “songs that some people believe to be an expression of sectarianism but which many people nonetheless find both offensive and provocative”,’ they should be brave enough to state what songs they found offensive.
If any commercial organisation had promoted lies about the Celtic support in the same way as the BBC have they would be feeling the chill of reduced audiences and reduced revenues.
The sooner that the BBC is answerable to the public through advertisers the better. They can then drop their laughable claim to be a public service and live within their means.
And if they wish to demonise a large proportion of their market place they’ll have to live with the consequences rather than producing laughable complaints procedures where they dodge the issues to promote agendas of their own.
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