Third complaint re Reporting Scotland on Business Confidence

Editorial Complaints Unit

Broadcast Centre

BC2 B4

201 Wood Lane


W12 7TP


Re: CAS-4195021-477PMB

I write to make my third complaint on the above case. The central point is that in reporting a Bank of Scotland study of optimism in Scottish business, Reporting Scotland on 11 January 2017 at 6.30am selected one negative factor to add to two other negative factors from the Federation of Small Businesses. I suggested that this gave an unduly negative and unrepresentative report as the Bank of Scotland had many other more positive points for Scottish Business. Here they are:

Scotland has managed to withstand a sharp decline in the number of start-up businesses in the last five years. The findings of a Bank of Scotland study reveal that 3% fewer new businesses were started in Scotland in November 2016 compared to November 2011, while the UK figure dropped by 19%. (See table 1) Regionally, the data from BankSearch shows that Wales has seen the largest decline in new start-ups, falling by over a quarter (26%). England has also been hit hard, declining by a fifth (20%). As this is where the greatest volume of new start businesses are launched, this equates to nearly 100,000 fewer new businesses created in 2016. In contrast to England and Wales, the view in Scotland is much more encouraging, with almost half (14 of 32) of Scottish regions seeing growth in the number of start-up businesses over the last five years.’

Here’s the table:

Table 1: Total Number of Start Ups in the UK over the last 5 Years – UK
Ranked by 5 Year % Change
UK Mainland Nov ’11 Nov ’16 5 Year Change 5 Year Change %
Scotland 29,132 28,222 -910 -3.1%
England 494,614 395,088 -99,526 -20.1%
Wales 23,195 17,089 -6,106 -26.3%
UK Mainland 549,028 443,805 -105,223 -19.2%
12 Month Rolled Data

Source:  BankSearch Business Start Ups

In his second response the Reporting Scotland Editor insists:

‘the writer – correctly, in my view – decided to run with the single most important point being emphasised by the compilers of each of the respective reports. In the case of the Bank of Scotland that was that start-up numbers had suffered a five-year fall. The essence of journalism is that stories are written with skill to accommodate boundaries of time or space (according to the medium), while being fair, accurate and impartial.’

This is patently untrue. He chose the only negative factor and presented it out of context.

I hope you will support my complaint and arrange for an apology

Professor John Robertson



13 thoughts on “Third complaint re Reporting Scotland on Business Confidence

  1. broadbield February 2, 2017 / 7:13 pm

    I’ve just read the BoS Press Release. Anyone with half a brain would have discerned that “the single most important point” was not that there had been a 3% fall, but that despite that the position in Scotland was more encouraging than in the rest of the UK, as you point out. Several regions showed success in start-ups, and furthermore: “additional research from Bank of Scotland’s ‘How Scotland Lives’ study … showed that more than one-in-nine Scots anticipate starting a company on their own or with a partner, the equivalent to 12% of the Scottish adult population of 4,459,590*. (See table 2)” I would have thought that any journalist would have regarded that as an “important point” worth emphasising. But then we’re talking about the BBC.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Finnmacollie February 2, 2017 / 8:04 pm

    “The essence of journalism is that stories are written with skill…..” True. It takes skill to show that being top of the league is a Disaster for Scotland*

    Keep pissin them off Prof.

    *tm Arthur Montford.


  3. Contrary February 3, 2017 / 9:03 am

    John, does the BBC ever acknowledge that you are correct in your analyses? Are any of your complaints responded to in a positive manner? Surely they will be grateful for such a thorough analysis of reporting accuracy with their new-found interest in fake news? … Sorry, a poor joke.

    You commented on previously re the Herald: are they delusional or psychopathic? I have been wondering this for a while, about all those that report, make the effort to report, only on the negative aspects of Scottish society/culture/government. And particularly so after a lengthy interview with an out-of-touch, delusional Gove on radio Scotland this morning. The English establishment seem to be unaware that if they had ever accepted scots as equals and integrated the two cultures, then the union would be accepted. But scots have ever been treated as foreigners, aliens, a colony, and so how can anyone support this farcical Union? To forever accept you are a second-class citizen, or to accept you are treating others as such? I am being delusional about human nature now!!

    Radio Scotland’s day of positive news earlier this week has quickly degenerated into the usual raving. Words used this morning were ‘false reality’ and ‘weaponising’ with regard to the Kremlin, RATIONING has been used frequently because we aren’t getting enough lettuce,,, (??). Alyn Smith MEP was asked repeatedly what he was doing for the third of Scotland that voted leave, Gove was asked if an independence referendum should be blocked. The most irritating part is the slavvering relish you hear in the presenters voices when they report anything that puts themselves, and their country, down. I believe you hear tone and nuance better on the radio than you can by watching the TV. The double-standards shown as regards picking and choosing which ‘majority’ is used to represent their case is really irritating – ‘overwhelming’ majority in the uk voted leave (hardly think so), but in Scotland the vote for remain has never been termed ‘overwhelming’ – we should only take into consideration the (minority of) leave voters,,, hypocrisy!

    I’ll think up something positive for the next comment 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Scott February 3, 2017 / 10:44 am

    John,I suppose you will get the same bullcrap reply from them like the rest of who have complained,us biased never.


  5. johnrobertson834 February 3, 2017 / 11:03 am

    Excrement of the male bovine is all I ever get. I stop for a few months then forget and complain again. It’s probably not good for me.


  6. Contrary February 3, 2017 / 1:47 pm

    It isn’t biased if the opinion is based on firm statistical evidence, and, of course, I like to remember that B.S. also = British Standard, which is the most likely outcome… (that made sense in my own head)

    John, making a complaint isn’t about winning or losing! It is about going on record, ensuring your point has been heard etc. I have been surprised that none of the mainstream media ever pick up on the issues you present. Now, obviously, people in the journalistic world do not want to jeopardise their job prospects by criticising someone that might one day be their boss (though on that point, you could argue that there is no integrity in the business), but it definitely feels like there has been a closing of ranks that allows for zero criticism of even the wildest claims in some newspapers. So much for freedom of the press…

    But the BBC, like the English political establishment, keep stonewalling exactly for the purpose of making us feel like there is no point – we have been made to feel this way for over 300 years, so it is not easy to shake off. It really does feel that way to me most days, but there IS a point; we are declaring we see what they are doing and that we do not accept it. When I say ‘we’ … well, I haven’t actually made a complaint to the BBC, I just stopped paying the tv licence, but I admire that you have! I might write to my MP or MSP about the possibility of an alternative to Radio Scotland, I really can’t do without local weather and traffic news in morning, and I believe, now, that Radio Scotland really is not good for my health – radio programmes should not affect my mood! I do not need to leave the house with low self-esteem and thoughts of a bleak future. So, I think it is best to keep on keeping on, chipping away, and taking the occasional much-needed rest! (or hiring some expensive lawyers!!)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Contrary February 3, 2017 / 8:55 pm

    Interesting thing that Mr PeatWorrier tweeted on; Crown Office complaints re the way they were portrayed on a BBC documentary about the bin lorry accident in Glasgow have been upheld by the BBC trust – though BBC Scotland still say they were being fair in their reporting and deny ,,, everything, link to twit if you would like access to it:

    I do not want to comment on any rights or wrongs of either party for this case, but had thought it a good example of some complaints getting a response, but now realise it more supports the case for influential lawyers getting a response! Is the BBC trust not to be scrapped soon anyway? OFCOM taking over perhaps? Maybe that will make a difference.


      • Contrary February 5, 2017 / 12:32 pm

        Yup. Same old.

        I do not want to be critical of the Scottish government, they are doing so much to protect us from Westminster policies and improving our lot, they should be congratulated for all they are doing & trying to do but I have a teensy wee minor niggling thing at the back of my mind, every time they say ‘a fairER and MORE equal’ Scotland, I think ‘fairer and more equal than what?’ ,,, they normally set very high standards and goals for themselves, but this is left rather vague. Never have I heard the goal to be just ‘fair and equal’, not really practically achievable, but as an aim it does not introduce comparisons,,, and comparisons to what? I’m just being picky.


  8. johnrobertson834 February 6, 2017 / 9:29 pm

    Editorial Complaints Unit

    Professor J Robertson

    6 February 2017

    Dear Professor Robertson

    Thank you for your email of 2 February regarding the Reporting Scotland news report

    which was broadcast on 11 January 2017. We’ll now begin an independent investigation

    into the concerns you have raised, which will include a review of the correspondence so far,

    a discussion with the programme-makers and any other enquiries that might be appropriate.

    As you may know, the remit of the Editorial Complaints Unit is to investigate cases where

    there may have been a serious breach of the standards expressed in the BBC’s Editorial

    Guidelines ( In summary, I have

    understood you to say the report was “unduly negative and unrepresentative” and failed to

    reflect the more positive emphasis of a Bank of Scotland report1

    . I will therefore consider

    your complaint in light of the editorial standards for due impartiality.

    I will aim to let you know the outcome of our investigation by 6 March. I should explain

    that when we have completed our investigation we will send you our provisional

    conclusions. If you disagree with our finding, you will have ten working days in which to let

    us have your comments, and we will only finalise our conclusions once those comments

    have been taken into account.

    Yours sincerely

    Colin Tregear

    Complaints Director


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s