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Former BBC presenter slams BBC’s blanket coverage of the Duke of Edinburgh’s death – claiming it denied viewer’s any choice

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Kamal Saini
Kamal S. has been Journalist and Writer for Business, Hardware and Gadgets at Revyuh.com since 2018. He deals with B2b, Funding, Blockchain, Law, IT security, privacy, surveillance, digital self-defense and network policy. As part of his studies of political science, sociology and law, he researched the impact of technology on human coexistence. Email: kamal (at) revyuh (dot) com

BBC Scotland presenter Isabel Fraser described the corporation’s relationship with the Royal Family as ‘odd’ and said the coverage cast doubt on its claims to be impartial.

It comes after the BBC received thousands of complaints after it cleared it’s schedules to cover the death of Prince Philip.

Ms Fraser, who left the broadcaster last year, said the BBC had taken a ‘cloth-eared’ approach about public attitudes to the Royal Family in Scotland.

She said she had seen ‘no evidence’ when she worked at the BBC of a recognition that audiences in Scotland and England felt differently about the Royal Family.

And she questioned whether the BBC should continue to ‘collude’ with the Royal Family to sell its brand.

Ms Fraser, who was one of Radio Scotland’s best-known presenters, made the claims on the on the Talk Media podcast.

She said:

“The BBC will say that a public service broadcaster has a particular role in the life of the nation and that’s fair enough.

“But why can you not meet the requirements of that role and your viewers’ expectations, by clearing a channel, give it the normal news coverage and say ‘we have far more in-depth over on another channel.’

“The danger is not doing that is that it seems as if you’re in a very odd relationship with the Royal Family – and I think it is an odd relationship in editorial terms.

“We all know that if you’re dealing with the Royal Family they will dictate very specific conditions, which the BBC would never agree with any other news source.

“Let’s have a think about that and what that means about how viewers will see the BBC in its ongoing relationship with the Royal Family.

“The very big question for the BBC is how should this change in the future.

“What do you do when the Queen dies? What will be the relationship with the Royal Family of the future?

“Is this kind of behaviour acceptable in editorial terms? Is it acceptable in terms of what your viewers and listeners want to hear and see?

“There’s also a distinction in Scotland.

“We know they’ve been a bit cloth-eared in terms of how people north of the border feel about the Royal Family compared with people south of the border.”

The volume of complaints to the BBC in the wake of the Duke of Edinburgh’s death is the highest in its history.

Ms Fraser added:

“There’s a really important point in terms of the BBC’s reputation and how it wants to be seen by its audiences in the future.

“When it is selling itself and its brand as being impartial that has to be credible across all news sources.

“I don’t know the comings and goings in this.

“But I just think there is some kind of institutionalized muscle-memory that says ‘this is the way it must be done.’

“Nick Witchell has a certain tone that some people would find far too obsequious.

“Fair enough, there will be people who want to look at this in more depth and live through this.

“Clear one of your channels and put it on there, but do not deny your viewers and listeners choice.

“That’s not what you’re there to do. You’re not there to tell them we’re going into mourning.

“The Royal Family is selling a brand.

“It is hyper-sensitive about publicity.

“It’s very good at manipulating publicity. It’s very good at staging how and when news comes out.

“The question for the BBC is does it go on colluding in selling this brand.”

She added:

“I saw no evidence when I was there of people saying: ‘There is a different perception, there is a different appetite for this in Scotland.’”

The BBC said in a statement:

“We acknowledge some viewers were unhappy with the level of coverage given and impact this had on the billed TV and radio schedules.

“We do not make such changes without careful consideration and the decisions made reflect the role the BBC plays as the national broadcaster during moments of national significance.”

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