Brand new Sunday Politics, same old unfairness

I've watched the Scottish version of the new Sunday Politics programme a couple of times so far this year on iPlayer and noticed that the format of the Scottish version is very different from the Welsh version.

As people will know, we get an hour long programme: the first 30 minutes is from London, then there is a 20 minute slot for Wales, returning to London for the last 10 minutes. Anybody listening to what Andrew Neil says just before the first switch would think that this pattern applies "across the UK" ... but it doesn't.

Last Sunday the Scottish version was made up of the same first 30 minutes from London, but that was followed by 60 minutes of Scottish political discussion without returning to London. The programme was 90 minutes in total, and we can watch it here.


When I watched the programme that was broadcast on 15 January, the Welsh version had the usual 20 minute Welsh slot, returning to London for the last 10 minutes. The Scottish version shared the same first 30 minutes from London, but was followed by 50 minutes of Scottish political discussion without returning to London, 80 minutes in total. Looking at the programme guide, I can see that next Sunday's programme in Scotland will be 90 minutes long and that Wales will get the usual 60 minute version.


It's not the only BBC programme that does this. For some time now BBC2's Newsnight has a common first 30 minutes across the UK; but the final 20 minutes in Scotland is devoted to Scottish affairs ... or to whatever international affairs are of particular interest to the Scots.

Why should Wales be treated in a second class manner? Whatever might have happened in the past, the decision makers at BBC Cymru/Wales should surely have taken the opportunity offered by a brand new format Sunday lunchtime political programme to press for each of the devolved countries of the UK to be treated in a similar way. Perhaps they did, but were ignored.

A fresh start deserves a fresh approach. So we should now kick up a fuss and insist that the BBC doesn't treat Wales as if we were merely a region of England, but on an equal basis with Scotland. Devolved politics deserves—in fact it needs—the same exposure to public scrutiny in Wales as it is given in Scotland.

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Ambiorix said...

As anybody contacted the BBC(EBSC)on this?

Anonymous said...

A Welsh Newsnight would be cracking!

Anonymous said...

It's what you get when you start standing up for yourself - more respect.

By that I don't just mean the SNP, but the people of Scotland who backed them and Alex Salmond.

The people of Wales needs a party and a leader like that to inspire them. It's time that Labour got the two fingers from Wales for its failures down the years.

Anonymous said...

You ignore the fact that BBC Scotland doesn't have a midweek politics programme similar to BBC Wales 'Dragon's eye' or its replacement. BBC Scotland choose to broadcast a politics splurge on Sunday without a weekday programme.

Anonymous said...

I think BBC Wales's politics is quite bad.
Dragon's Eye is put on a silly day and time where nobody can see it. I would scrap it (and its new show) and instead have a "Newsnight Wales" every night.

I also think that AMPM needs to be improved- it is EXTREMELY dull and I admit- I will switch to 'Daily Politics' if I have SKY.

Out of all the political programmes, in fairness I think that ITV Wales's Sharp End wins hands down. It is very informative, and it is quite entertaining (like Newsnight Eng). It's just really unfortunate that it is on Thu Night (the same night as BBCQT). Perhaps it should swop to Wednesday and at an earlier time - maybe even replace ITV News at Ten?

I won't get started with BBCQT - the programme is a joke, and what is worse- it's made by a Welsh TV company!

MH said...

I didn't realize that Scotland doesn't have a midweek politics programme, Anon 18:36. That does make a difference. But 20 mins on the Sunday Politics and 30 mins for Dragon's Eye is 50 mins in total, so Scotland's arangement still gives them ten more minutes (unless balanced by the total number of programmes over the year).

Actually, the last 10 mins of the new Sunday Politics seems to me to be one of the weakest parts of the programme. So perhaps a good answer would be for BBC Wales to take over the whole of the last 30 mins ... which would equal things up nicely.

But despite that, Scotland still gets an extra 20 mins on each of four nights per week on Newsnight, which is something I'd dearly like Wales to have too.

Anonymous said...

On the day of Cameron the Fat Cat's visit to Scotland to tell the Scots (the mice) how lucky they are to be in the blessed Union, this might make interesting viewing:

"When the Mice Elected Cats or The Story of Mouseland" (Thomas C Douglas)

Anonymous said...

All very pertinent comments Syniadau, with which I agree entirely.

However, the thing that really rattles my cage at the moment is the wall-to-wall coverage, debate and analysis on so-called pan-UK programmes (such as News, Newsnight, debate shows, religious debate shows (Nicky Campbell for e.g.), easy-watching magazine shows.... the list is endless) of essentially England-only matters such as Health, Education, local government, etc.). Hours and hours of programming are dedicated to this with ABSOLUTELY no reference to the fact that these are England-only matters. Let's get this clear. These are not England-only shows. They are broadcast throughout the UK.

At best, viewers in Wales, Scotland and NI will feel a little aggrieved that their own domestic situations are NEVER discussed, at worst (due to a dier lack of political education) they just think all of this applies to them.

I understand the inherent challenges for UK-wide programmes. Do they not touch devolved areas because they could never treat them equally? They can't really ignore the big issues of the day affecting England-only services such as Health and Education. But that doesn't help us. It just shows the absolute rotten core at the centre of the "British" broadcasting institutions. They are quite literally English-only broadcasters. We don't even get a cursory, disclaimer-type sentence at the end of a debate/analysis/review piece such as "these areas, of course, relate only to England. Arrangements and policy debate, may well differ in Wales, Scotland and NI". That could be the least we might expect, nevermind thinking about additional/alternative content/debate from the devolved nations from time to time.

The real losers in this are the electorates of Wales, Scotland and NI. Their governements get a free ride without hardly any popular or specialist scrutiny of major areas of governance. As good/bad as Dragon's Eye, Sharp End, Wales Today, etc. are, they are a meer drop in the ocean compared to the full range of television "comment" that takes place on British tv. Do not underestimate the importance of non-specialist programmes engaging in essentially political debates.

This really does need to be addressed.

Yours increasingly irate,

Phil Davies

maen_tramgwydd said...

Phil Davies

I couldn't agree more

Anonymous said...

Why is there not a Welsh version of question time in the English language? It beggars belief that 13 years into devolution such a vital current affairs programme doesn't yet exist. Viewing figures would be small to start with but with parties putting up the right people, and some interesting fifth guests, would start to increase. An interesting social media buzz could also be generated.

Anonymous said...

Phil: at least NI and Scotland have some form of scrutiny via the newspapers. We have nothing. It is because of this weak media why I genuinely believe we have such a weak Assembly and Labour have been in power for 13years. You're right: they've had a free ride. And the actions of the UK Government not WAG's that have decided the election results here in Wales.

This is totally undemocratic, and more than anything else I think this area needs sudden reform.

Anonymous said...

On Question Time why doesn't the BBC simply do Welsh / Scottish / NI versions broadcast locally in the QT slot every so often? Once a month would be good.

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