The new head of BBC Scotland has described the broadcaster’s ongoing dispute with Rangers as a “matter of huge regret” as the Beeb feels the migration of Ibrox supporters to other channels.
Rangers have been in heated dispute with BBC Scotland for a number of years over their coverage of the club with this culminating in the revoking of press rights for BBC journo Chris McLaughlin.
Rangers felt the journalist unfairly focused on arrests in a 6-2 win over Hibs back in 2015 – in a way the journalist might not do to other clubs – with the BBC standing in solidarity with their reporter and refusing to send staff to Ibrox.
This was the tip of the iceberg concerning numerous incidences of vexatious reporting and since then BBC Scotland’s coverage of Rangers has ranged from the laughable to the incendiary.
Amongst the numerous incidents two in particular stand out from recent seasons.
Chief sportswriter Tom English was lambasted by Rangers officials for suggesting fans were making up reports of a crush at Rugby Park last season.
Outspoken pundit Michael Stewart was also suspended for comments he made about ex-Rangers PR chief Jim Traynor making up stories of racism allegedly aimed at Gers striker Alfredo Morelos on a BBC radio show.
Rangers shareholders Club 1872 have openly criticised what they view as an “anti-Rangers culture” within BBC Scotland.
The broadcaster is paid for by license fee payers – many of whom are Rangers fans – and this sort of coverage has had Ibrox fans turning away.
When the new Head of BBC Scotland, Steve Carson, was asked about the situation by journalist Bill Whiteford on Good Morning Scotland, here’s what he had to say:
“The ongoing dispute with Rangers is a matter of huge regret to the BBC,” said Carson [GMS 30/10/20].
“We continue to make every endeavour we can to resolve it and I think the club, if possible, would also like to resolve it as well.
“We’re all going to work to resolve it. It comes back to the fact we’re defending our editorial independence, there was a dispute with a specific BBC journalist and I think the club have their own strong point of view on that and we want to work with them in good faith to resolve that.”
The question is, by the time that happens, will it be too little too late and will Rangers fans have migrated elsewhere for their coverage if they haven’t already?
Once you lose the Rangers support, it is famously nigh-on impossible to get them back.