This stunningly, embarrassingly, low figure is from a 2017 BMG Research poll, reported on in the Herald on the 11th February, into the extent to which Scots trust BBC News Reporting not to be biased on Independence. I only accessed the full BMG report yesterday but it’s worth looking at it from a different perspective to the Herald. It’s a massive rejection of a public (funded) service broadcaster (PSB) perhaps unparalleled in the Western democracies. An international review of 23 academic studies (ref below) in 2016 found: ‘The studies reviewed tend to point towards a net positive impact of public service media when it comes to trust…’ So trust is strongly associated with PSBs and expected of them but clearly this is not the case for younger Scots and BBC News.
I could also have headlined accurately like this:
Less than 1 in 4 Scots trust BBC Scotland News Reporting on Independence
I could also have written accurately:
Only 23% of Scots trust BBC News on Independence
On the 11th February, The Herald went for this headline:
One in three Scots think BBC biased against independence
You can see the one the Herald chose is the least bad for the BBC but it’s still not good. Remember many of these people are paying for the same BBC service they clearly distrust.
Compare any of these figures with the 73% of people who trust the Scottish government ‘just about always’ or ’most of the time’ to act in Scotland’s best interest. It’s a stark contrast between a trusted government and the broadcaster reporting on it.
The BMG research was based on online data collection so is more reliable than landline telephone data collection. There’s a reference below to an older piece explaining why. The last BMG report which suggested a very encouraging 49% Yes vote for independence prior to any campaigning was also based on online data collection.
This was the BMG method:
‘A representative sample of 1,067 Scots aged 16+ were asked: “to what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement? – “The BBC tends to report news that is biased against the cause for Scottish independence”.’
‘The polling gives an indication that the BBC, one of Britain’s most popular and trusted media organisations, may be facing both a political and a generational divide in Scotland. In the eyes of younger and pro-independence Scots the BBC’s reputation for unbiased and objective reporting may be called into question. With the prospect of another independence referendum still looming, the debates surrounding the BBC’s impartiality, is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon.’
It’s only a matter of time.