AN anti-BBC billboard campaign is to be launched by pro-independence activists after they raised more than £8,000 within a week.

The Inform Scotland group, which accuses the broadcaster of distorting the news agenda, said it planned to pay for 10 giant posters across Scotland aimed at drawing the public's attention to "the ways in which they are being lied to."

A mock-up of a billboard design states "BBC is mis-reporting Scotland" and includes a link to the campaign group's website which hosts a string of articles supportive of the Scottish Government and claiming to expose media misinformation. More than 400 people have donated to the project in six days, putting it on course to easily meet its target of £8,500.

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Its appeal states: "We know that a significant minority of people in Scotland still trust the BBC as a publicly-funded broadcaster, and are quite unaware as to how they are being misled."

The BBC strongly rejected any claims of bias in its news coverage and launched a thinly-veiled attack on "those who would clearly like our journalism to pay deference to one particular political viewpoint or another."


The campaign follows protests against alleged BBC bias by Yes campaigners ahead of the 2014 independence referendum. Alex Salmond backed the protects, outside the corporation's Glasgow headquarters, after he became embroiled with a public row with then-political editor Nick Robinson.

Professor John Robertson, who recently retired as a professor of media politics at the University of the West of Scotland and has previously published research disputed by the BBC which he said backed up claims of bias, is acting as a spokesman for Inform Scotland.

He said the group had been set up by "frustrated Yes supporters" who believed the BBC favoured a unionist perspective in its news coverage and presented an unduly negative view of the Scottish Government's performance in areas such as health, policing and education.

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He rejected claims that the group was promoting conspiracy theories, but said he believed a small handful of senior people at the BBC acted with an "explicit agenda" based on links to Labour.

He said: "What I think you have is an almost semi-conscious unionism, a preference for stories which damage the independence movement which isn't based on a conspiracy at all, it's a casual, almost unconscious tendency.

"I'm not suggesting by any means a group of people getting together to articulate a conspiracy and develop an agenda in an organised manner. I think the unionist agenda emerges from one or two individuals who on an everyday basis just prefer certain stories because they suit their own personal agenda."

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Some pro-independence activists have criticised the poster campaign, saying it will prove counter-productive in winning over 2014 no voters. But Professor Robertson said it would help achieve balance, partially coming in response to the pro-UK Scotland in Union group which recently launched its own poster campaign.

He added: "Only Alex Salmond, and one or two others, would dare to have a go at the BBC. I think there is a body of opinion in the pro-independence movement who think you're better just to turn the other cheek, that you make yourself look petty and so on.

"I take Salmond's position. I think it is appropriate to fight back at times. I understand the criticism, that it's not the best way to go about it, you might argue that's a division in the pro-independence movement but there are divisions in all movements about how best to proceed."

The SNP distanced itself from the poster campaign, saying it had nothing to do with it and did not support it.

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A BBC spokesman said: "Public service journalism exists to scrutinise and ask questions of those who are responsible for public policy decisions, while also doing the same for those who oppose them - no matter which political viewpoint they represent.

"Because of the way we are funded we don’t, as some newspapers do, follow any particular political viewpoint – it is our responsibility to provide outlets for as many voices as possible as we strive to provide fair and impartial news coverage.

"Reassuringly, audiences continue to tell us that the BBC is still the news provider they trust most, while we take heart from the fact that Reporting Scotland is by far the most watched news programme in Scotland with almost half a million viewers tuning in every night.

"We therefore reject any suggestion that our coverage is partial. There are those who would clearly like our journalism to pay deference to one particular political viewpoint or another - that is not, nor will it ever be, our role."