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BBC Scotland End Rangers Boycott

Contributors Blog

Since August 2015, when Rangers banned the then BBC Scotland Sport Chief Reporter Chris McLaughlin, BBC Scotland have boycotted Ibrox. They refused to send staff to cover Rangers games in a show of solidarity with their journalist/presenter. Rangers did not ban the BBC. In some quarters it has been misconstrued for near seven years that Rangers had banned the Corporation.

Many Rangers fans, as individuals or as groups, had voiced concerns, written letters or emails and generally showed a displeasure that they, as licence payers, were not getting their interests covered by the BBC. Others had complained heavily to the BBC about many instances of impartial reporting and complete bias against the club. In 2019 Club 1872’s complaint about Tom English’s vile comments on the safety of Rangers fans at an away game was upheld and BBC Scotland have on numerous occasions penned apologies for inaccuracies. Last week’s “apology” is not new. It’s a rehash of previous apologies and is no different to any previous apology.

They stated “The BBC acknowledges that there have been occasions when parts of the coverage of Rangers FC have not met its editorial standards. It has apologised for those instances and is happy to repeat those apologies now.”

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So last week saw no new apology, only a “repeat” of previous ones.

This whole sorry tale ignited so long ago that if you’d smashed a mirror in anger when the BBC had not “met its editorial standards” your self inflicted run of bad luck would be almost over.

The straw that broke the camel’s back appears to have been a sports reporter’s haste to report on two arrests for alleged sectarian singing during a game v Hibs when Police Scotland actually praised the behaviour of both sets of fans. McLaughlin managed to pen and submit his piece, where he quoted crime reports, even before he scribbled his match report, which was the reason he was at Easter Road that day. But his ban wasn’t for this single act of biased journalism, it was more inline with a totting up of points or persistent fouling. Both of which weren’t unique to McLaughlin.

So what has changed now after the BBC and Rangers statements? Very little, if anything at all. There’s been no comment made regarding the ban on Chris McLaughlin but with him no longer working for BBC Scotland “Sport” it’s unlikely that he’d be anywhere near Ibrox on match days anyway. There were no assurances within the BBC statement about future “balanced” reporting nor was there any mention of any retort from Rangers to any future biased reporting.

Nothing seems to have changed except BBC Scotland ending their self inflicted seven year exile. No new apology, no new assurances and no mention if they’re going to pay any sum for access to Rangers which was a prerequisite for journalist access last season.

The hope is that BBC Scotland have learned from their mistakes but with the extended employment of Chris McLaughlin, Tom English and Michael Stewart amongst their ranks, it’s doubtful any new-found balance or neutrality will be long lasting. Go smash a mirror and I’ll bet you even money that a bias creeps back in before your good luck returns.

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All Rangers, and the fans, ever wanted was fair journalism. All the BBC seemed to do was to let their journalists write and say what they wanted and then pen a worthless apology several days later.

“Eat, Sleep, Slag Rangers, Repeat” may have been a suitable slogan in the corridors at 40 Pacific Quay for a while. It remains to be seen if this motto remains. The hope must be that someone somewhere in their riverside HQ can keep a rope on those who appear over anxious to report Rangers in as poor a light as possible. Will some of their agents be able to hold back their obvious hatred of our club and stick to being balanced and neutral? I think that’s doubtful and the best chance of the amnesty remaining is if those in power at the BBC are firm enough in the management of their staff. If not, we will inevitably see “Eat, Sleep, Complain to the BBC, Repeat” return as a pastime for our support.

Fingers crossed.

Yours

John Logie Beard

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