Just how small is BBC Radio Scotland Good Mourning Scotland’s audience? Is Wings over Scotland now bigger?


I’m small beer in this which is OK because I do like a small beer. The best I’ve had is 9 707 readers for a story. I tend to average nearer 2 000. However, pro-independence blog Wings over Scotland and Radio Scotland’s Good Mourning Scotland (GMS) seem like they may be getting very close in audience size. In fact, I’m going to wager Wings has pulled clear and GMS is spiralling downward to utter insignificance. First, Wings over Scotland claim:

‘Wings had just over 300,000 unique readers in June, despite taking the last couple of weeks off ourselves, bringing the monthly average readership for the first half of 2017 to 346,226. That’s 55,532 up on the same period last year, or a 19% increase.’


In an effort to establish the audience for GMS, Wings wrote to ask what it was only to be told the Freedom of Information Act didn’t really cover BBC audience figures even though citizens are forced to fund it. Wings commented:

‘On one level, we suppose it’s comforting to know that the BBC holds all of its patrons in contempt, not just those who support Scottish independence. It’s less uplifting to realise that the Freedom of Information Act only applies to the broadcaster in an abstract theoretical sense, even though citizens are forced to fund it under penalty of law whether they watch its output or not. That seems to us to veer terribly close to “taxation without representation”, particularly in the light of the fact that fewer than half of Scots feel the BBC is serving them adequately in its coverage of news and current affairs – the only part of the UK where that’s the case. (61% of English people, for example, are happy with it.) We suspect those feelings are reflected in the viewing statistics for the Corporation’s flagship Scottish political programmes, and that that’s the reason the BBC is so shy about revealing them. But since it appears that those numbers are an impenetrable state secret held above the law of the land, we’ll never know for sure.’


So, in the absence of official statistics, I’ve had to scrabble around piecing together the evidence. We do know from days when they felt less threatened that GMS lost 75 000 listeners in one year between 2008 and 2009. It slumped by 16.5% in that one year from 455 000 to 380 000. This coincided with the first SNP government in 2007 and recent growth of SNP support.


We know also that BBC Radio Scotland altogether has slumped by 35% between 2011 and 2016, from 1 350 000 to 901 000.


So, unless GMS is beating the trend for the rest of BBC Radio Scotland, we can perhaps assume a comparable slump from 2009 at 380 000, down by around 35%, to at best 250 000 in 2016. I think that’s generous in that I’ve left out any change from 2009 to 2011 for which I have no figures at all. I know there are a lot of ifs and buts in there but the BBC’s refusal to reveal the figures officially makes me think I might be on the right track and, on that basis, Wings is bigger than GMS.


10 thoughts on “Just how small is BBC Radio Scotland Good Mourning Scotland’s audience? Is Wings over Scotland now bigger?

  1. Clanappin1745 October 27, 2017 / 3:59 pm

    GMS figures must be the most positive in “retaining a rump of listeners” as it would be interesting to know figures for that wretched programme “Call Kay” , and others such as Sunday Politics Scotland, Andrew Marr etc, which are either a total turn off or irrelevant to Scotland. Their bias and disdain against all things SNP is scarcely concealed, come to think of it Gordon Brewer, Sarah Smith, Andrew Neil, Andrew Marr, Neil Oliphant and Glen Campbell all have three things in common- they are Scottish, they are openly biased against Scotland’s most popular political party, and they are all employed by the BBC. What can it mean ?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ludo Thierry October 27, 2017 / 5:06 pm

    Hi John – am impressed at your stamina in wrestling with those figures. I strongly suspect your conclusions are correct – and that – on a typical day – WoS will receive significantly more unique browsers than GMS has listeners. (Note also: the commitment involved in being a unique browser is surely considerably more than that of the radio listener – when radio is playing in car or kitchen/bathroom whilst people are dashing around getting ready for work or getting themselves to work – or making the evening meal).

    You might describe your blog as “..small beer..” (with best daily figure to date = 9707) but the Scotsman, as we know from the August Audit Bureau of Circulation figures is bumping along on 9975 full price daily average sales (with a further 5895 heavily discounted daily sales, and 5344 daily ‘give-aways’).

    Johnston Press (JP) CEO Ashley Highfield was apparently on beeb radio 4’s The Media Show this week bragging that – in August – the Scotsman became the first JP title to to see its advertising revenue come equally from print and digital. That’s interesting info. Ex-beeb bod Ashley was making out this was evidence of a substantial web use advertising income – but it’s surely more suggestive of heavily declining print advertising revenue.

    The updated ABC figures for Audience figures for individual newspaper online platforms were released in August (the figure represents the daily average unique browsers):

    Herald = 92,408, Scotsman = 123,326. Both these titles claim to cover Scotland rather than a city. For comparative purposes here are some figures from city papers in England: Plymouth Herald = 115,366, Bristol Post = 136,916, Newcastle Chronicle = 297, 527.

    Beeb Jockland and ‘Scottish’ MSM – same dire story – They seem to have a death-wish. Their reputations are shot – and their committed core listenership / viewership / readership are dying off gently or coming to realise what duds they are and voting with their feet (migrating to alternatives).

    This continuing drift will impact on next Indyref – The BritNats will have to work a bit harder as beeb/msm ‘heavy lifting’ for them will no longer be having quite the impact – or quite the reach – it had first time round.

    Thanks, Ludo

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Len Goodman October 28, 2017 / 8:43 am

    Your grasp of figures is as shonky as your UWS research. Wings’ stats should be examined more closely – he always exaggerates his traffic. You should ask him about reach and watch him clam up. Let me help you out:in relative terms, if the available audience is Glasgow, then the BBC is managing the equivalent of Glasgow central. Wings audience is three streets in Govan


    • johnrobertson834 October 28, 2017 / 9:55 am

      shonky? Is that youthtalk? Isn’t ‘reach’ the problem here because it can mean very little in terms of actual engagement with ideas? 5 mins in an average week?


    • Jon October 28, 2017 / 2:25 pm

      “Wings stats should be examined more closely – he always exaggerates his traffic” No he doesn’t , he posts screen dumps of the host traffic. Then there’s BBC audience figures. Instead of boasting, they are so bad they refuse FOI applications.

      Are you Donalda MacKinnon, attacking the opposition, defending your efforts at the BBC.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Clydebuilt October 28, 2017 / 9:34 am

    I’ve seen circulation figures for the national at (approx). 8700 paper and 1500 web . Given there are around 100,000 SNP members and a 45% of voters support Independence. The paper is clearly doing something very wrong!

    Eg yesterday’s front page , a man lives beside an uninhabited house with an overgrown hedge. IMHO it’s aimed at political Anoraks who strongly support Independence .. . . . Even then only 10% of the SNP membership buy it.

    The Herald claims it’s fair and balanced The National states boldly on its front page its political allegiance, the only paper in the UK to do so.

    Was it designed to have limited success in the first place.


    • johnrobertson834 October 28, 2017 / 9:56 am

      I sometimes wonder if it’s a Trojan horse weakening the movement. I know, paranoid, they’ll (all) say.


      • Clydebuilt October 28, 2017 / 1:41 pm

        Andrew S. Grove, Ex Ceo and co-founder of Intel ” Only the paranoid Survive” . Heard it over 20 yrs ago, never forgot it. . . . .,.

        Clydebuilt , 2017 . .,. “I’d rather be paranoid than a Yoonionist ”

        Surely it’s only by possessing a degree of paranoia that individuals are enabled to see through the propaganda, to realise what’s going on, then impart that knowledge to others.

        Liked by 1 person

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