Many pundits are of the opinion that the new Tory Max government will be actively hostile to the BBC, which the party has long believed is an expensive public-sector hotbed of right-on lefties. So when we did our latest poll, it seemed worth finding out how much the people of Scotland valued the state broadcaster.
There were, let’s say, some interesting quirks.
Least surprising, we suspect, was the divide across the independence frontlines. No fewer than 68% of Yes voters said that if given the choice, they’d either pay nothing for the BBC – wanting it advertising-funded instead – or simply wouldn’t watch it. No voters were significantly less antagonistic, but only up to a point: more than half of them (51%) felt the same way.
SNP voters were the least keen by a large margin, with only 17% being willing to continue paying the current licence fee, compared to a hefty 44% of Lib Dems, with Tories and Labour both in the middle on 30%.
(The BBC, we suspect, will be delighted that its ratings are almost exactly the same among Labour and Tory voters, seeing that as an indicator of “balance”.)
Wealthier ABC1 voters were much happier with the service than the C2DE demographic, split roughly 50/50 on the fee while the lower-income sample opposed paying by around 2:1. Older people were also slightly more willing to pay than other age groups, but still in a minority.
The thing that we weren’t expecting, though, was the difference according to football loyalties. To a very noticeable degree, fans of Celtic and “Rangers” were dissatisfied with the Beeb compared to other football-lovers. Celtic fans had a net approval rating (subtracting those not willing to pay from those who’d pay for TV, radio or both) of -42 and “Rangers” fans -31, compared to the 0 score for other clubs’ supporters.
We’re at a loss to explain that one. The broadcaster’s coverage of Scottish football is a complete disgrace, spending less on the entire SPFL than it does on Gary Lineker’s razor-blade budget for Match Of The Day, but it’s an even-handed disgrace, treating all clubs with equal contempt.
Our best guess – and it’s just a guess – is that both sets of supporters, for very different reasons, are irate with the Corporation over its coverage of the three-year circus on Edmiston Drive. It’s certainly the case that “Rangers” fans are still very bitter about the reporting of certain stories, and the fact that the BBC occasionally lapses into the truth regarding the club’s status as being just three years old.
Celtic fans, meanwhile, may be equally incandescent that the broadcaster invariably makes a craven retreat in the face of the torrent of howling rage from furious “Rangers” fans whenever it dares to acknowledge the latter fact, or just say anything that The Peepul don’t like – a Google search for “rangers fans bbc new club anger” produces page after page of different complaints, almost always met with a grovelling apology for journalists having actually done their job properly.
What little evidence we can offer for that view is that when elsewhere in the poll we also asked respondents to agree or disagree with the proposition “The football club currently playing as ‘Rangers’ is a brand-new club formed in 2012”, the answers from the two sets of fans were almost precisely opposite (with neutrals favouring the “new club” view by a substantial but smaller margin):
OTHER SCOTTISH CLUBS
But ultimately we’re just speculating. What we can say with certainty is that if the Tories do unleash their attack dogs on the BBC, then for one reason or another, very few Scots will be racing to its defence.