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Media Guidance for Supporters

A number of members have been in contact with Club 1872 asking for assistance in challenging the prevailing Scottish media narrative on the club, players and supporters. This has been accentuated recently following skewed and at times blatantly dishonest BBC Scotland coverage of our games on Sportscene and Sportsound.

Club 1872 frequently lodges complaints over skewed media reporting and has done so again in relation to recent coverage. However, the more that individual supporters take the time to highlight bias, inconsistency or inaccuracy, the more likely it is that change can be brought about. With that in mind we have written some guidance for supporters who do wish to take practical action over this issue.

At all times we would ask supporters to be polite in their communication with any media organisation, not least because they will ignore any abusive correspondence. We appreciate that feelings run high but any abuse of journalists or staff via direct complaints to media organisations or on social media is completely counter productive to what we are trying to achieve, which is fair honest coverage of Rangers and our supporters.

The guidance below details steps that supporters can take to raise issues with both BBC Scotland and commercial media organisations and the commercial press. These approaches differ in process and likely effect but they will all be effective over time if enough supporters are willing to engage in the process and show the patience required.

The detail is meant as a reference for supporters, the relevant part of which can be used whenever necessary. It is broken down by organisation, or organisation type where the process is the same.

BBC Scotland

How do I lodge a complaint?

You must first lodge a complaint directly with the BBC. You can so online here.

The process is fairly simple and just requires a number of selections to be made. You provide some general details and select ‘BBC Scotland’ as the channel. You will also need basic details of the programme in question – name (Sportsound, Sportscene etc.), the day it was broadcast and ideally the time it was broadcast. You can leave out the time if you are not sure.

You then have to select the grounds for your complaint and provide a written account of what has led you to make the complaint. With BBC Scotland it is likely to be appropriate to select ‘bias’ and/or ‘factual error or inaccuracy’ as the reason for the complaint. It may be worth making separate complaints on both grounds, as often the factual error or inaccuracy will be as a result of bias. If you do not make separate complaints then a valid complaint about inaccuracy could fail on the basis that bias cannot be proven.

A recent example would be – BBC Scotland coverage of the 4 penalties awarded to Rangers in the St Mirren match resulted in their pundits claiming only one penalty was legitimate. For the fourth penalty – holding on Daniel Candeias – the reason they give for their conclusion that it is not a penalty, is that the holding started outside the box. However, the relevant rule is that if holding continues into the box, which it did, then a penalty should be given. So there is a factual inaccuracy in their coverage because they ignore the rule but there is also potential bias in that they may be aware of the rule but are choosing to ignore it.

Inaccuracy is easier to prove than bias but often both are present in BBC Scotland coverage. It depends if you want to take the time to complain on both grounds. The process of making this initial complaint should only take 5 minutes or so.

Please ensure that before you submit the complaint you keep a note of when you complained, the written text of your complaint and the basis of the complaint (bias, inaccuracy etc.) As you progress through the process it can be difficult to retrieve this information from the BBC correspondence and you will need it for OfCom should you proceed that far.

Any complaint you make will be rejected by BBC Scotland as a matter of course. From the hundreds of complaints we are aware of, BBC Scotland has never admitted bias or inaccuracy without the process being taken further. You will receive an email saying that they have rejected your complaint. Once this is received you will be able to escalate your complaint to the Executive Complaints Unit (ECU) via email confirmation that you wish to do so. They will also almost certainly reject your complaint on whatever basis BBC Scotland has provided.

The final stage is to send your complaint to OfCom. This is the most likely way to generate a positive outcome as OfCom is independent. The BBC will send you an email telling you how to do this but you will need the details above as the process is separate so you have to detail your complaint again.

Why should I complain if Club 1872 has already done so? 

BBC Scotland coverage of Rangers is often biased and inaccurate. Negative incidents involving Rangers are given undue attention and analysis on BBC Sportsound and Sportscene, The same standards are not applied to incidents involving other clubs and their players. Pundits often have a pre-determined bias against the club and appear to be selected on that basis. Multiple examples of inappropriate content in articles on the BBC website, provided to BBC Scotland by both supporters and Rangers themselves, have not led to any improvement in coverage.

The BBC is not a commercial organisation so ignoring their output and not sharing links and stories does not work. The only way to challenge the bias and agenda against the club, supporters and players is by using the complaints procedure and regularly escalating these complaints to OfCom. The eyes of the BBC in England are on BBC Scotland due to the ongoing dispute with Rangers and the high profile appointment of Steven Gerrard. BBC Scotland are short changing the licence fee payers in Scotland by refusing the cover the club fairly and comprehensively. Supporters have a huge part to play in changing this behaviour and regular sustained complaints regarding the frequent bias and dishonesty of BBC Scotland will, over time, lead to change.

My last complaint wasn’t upheld, should I complain again?

Yes. Every official complaint must be logged. The gradual build up of legitimate complaints will increase pressure on BBC Scotland to improve their coverage of our club. Supporters regularly raise issues regarding BBC Scotland coverage via social media but although the BBC are aware of these complaints, they don’t have to respond to them or justify their output. Whilst social media is useful to flag up these incidents, the only way to change things is to use the complaints procedure.

Independent Press Standards Organisation

The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) is the vehicle for complaints regarding press articles which may contravene their Editors Code. These complaints can be on specific grounds only. There is no duty of impartiality for newspapers as there is with the BBC so they cannot be subject to complaints of bias. Only false or fabricated stories.

IPSO complaints can be made regarding any mainstream Scottish or English newspaper. Should you wish to complain about any article directly to the newspaper in question then you can do this first but it is very unlikely they will deal satisfactorily with any complaint and it is not a prerequisite for making a complaint to IPSO.

You can make an IPSO complaint here:

The most likely reason for complaint relating to coverage of Rangers is accuracy. You will need detail of when the article was published, which publication it was in and whether it was print, online or both. Having the headline also helps to trace the story if it is from a print edition only.

IPSO are independent and will examine your complaint and seek comment from the newspaper in question. If they deem there has been a breach then they will mediate between you and the newspaper to find a solution, whether that is an apology, printed retraction or in some extreme cases damages.

Although the grounds for complaint are more restrictive via IPSO than, for example, the BBC complaints procedure, there is a greater chance of success if there has been an inaccurate story. Multiple press stories on Rangers have been withdrawn and apologies secured over the past few years, most notably when the Daily Record falsely accused Rangers fans of throwing their children in front of police vehicles.

With regard to constant negative coverage of the club, although IPSO complaint is a route to remedy some stories, we would remind supporters that the most effective way to change the narrative emanating from the commercial press is to stop purchasing their hardcopy material and to refrain from clicking on or sharing links to their online content on social media.

It is very useful to let the publication know via email or letter that you have stopped purchasing their print copies and using their online services.

We will try to source and add email addresses to this resource where you can contact newspapers to let them know why you have withdrawn financial support.

If you wish to raise issues regarding press behaviour via social media platforms then we would advise screenshotting their output and posting it, rather than linking to the daily clickbait and negativity which is being produced. If you disagree with a story or believe it to be false, misleading or inaccurate, then clicking the link and sharing is simply encouraging the newspaper in question to produce more and more of the same type of content.

The Scottish press is now largely, although with some exceptions, a stream of clickbait and sensationalist columns – ignoring their output and using other sources for information about the club is the best way to challenge the prevailing narrative.

Traditional Media Alternatives

There are a number of excellent alternatives to traditional media for accurate news about Rangers.

We will shortly publish a list of alternative media for supporters.

Issued by Supporters Voice Limited, a Club 1872 company

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