A UK Government minister has suggested Leave voters may take the “opposite” view to most Scots on the BBC, in response to The National’s exclusive poll showing most Scots felt the broadcaster failed to cover the topic properly.
Julia Lopez, the minister for media, data and digital infrastructure, responded to our survey results published on Sunday, which showed 53% of Scots felt the BBC had not covered the impacts of Brexit on Scotland well.
The poll found that a plurality of people (30%) thought the BBC had done “not very” well at reporting accurately on Brexit’s impact. A further 23% said the broadcaster had “not at all” accurately represented the impacts.
The chair of the Scottish Affairs Committee Pete Wishart, SNP MP, pressed the minister for a response to the poll, suggesting that the BBC’s reputation could be damaged by the perception the corporation was not covering the impact of Brexit properly.
He said: “There was an opinion poll done in The National newspaper that said that 53% of Scots were dissatisfied with the way that Brexit had been covered.
“Only 3% thought it was covered well and I think 15% thought it was alright.
“Does that not sort of suggest that maybe Scotland isn’t getting the type of news it requires, if something as big as Brexit is being covered in such a way that people actually don’t find is reflective of their own opinion?”
Lopez suggested some of her constituents might take the opposite view from that of Scots who appeared to feel the corporation had not accurately reflected the damage caused by leaving the EU.
She represents the Brexit stronghold of Hornchurch and Upminster, on the outskirts of London, which recorded a 69.5% Leave vote in 2016.
Lopez told the committee: “I represent a constituency in East London and the Essex border, I think that, as a very pro-Leave voting area, might make the opposite case, that some of those views were not adequately reflected in the BBC’s coverage.
“I was simply making the point that there are different perceptions of the BBC according to different parts of the country and I think that the BBC has to address those by trying to move staff out into different parts of the country and make sure that that breadth of debate is out there, to make sure that programmes are made about different parts of the country that are reflective of those communities.
“It’s not for me to sort of say ‘Well, yes those views are valid and those views aren’t.’
“We have an independent regulator, it’s not for the minister to start determining who’s not being satisfied with news production and who isn’t – it’s to try and set broad policies that allow that reflection and that diversity of viewpoint to come through.”