Researching two years of Broadcast Media Bias against the Campaign for Scottish Independence

Former Professor of Media Politics at the University of the West of Scotland, Dr John Robertson writes

‘So, on the objective evidence presented here, the mainstream TV coverage of the first year of the independence referendum campaigns has not been fair or balanced. Taken together, we have evidence of coverage which seems likely to have damaged the Yes campaign.’

Roughly two years ago, in January 2014, as a member of no political party, I concluded an interim research report, titled Fairness in the First Year, on BBC and STV/ITV coverage of issues, relevant to the outcome of the forthcoming Scottish Independence Referendum, with the above words. Published on Newsnetscotland, the research went viral with 10 000 hits a day, tweeted by Frankie Boyle to 1.6 million and by Irvine Welsh to 600 000. It’s still at:

BBC Scotland copied their critical reply to me, to my boss, the Principal, saying I had brought both the University and the BBC into disrepute and that my methodology was flawed. Though anxious, I responded and to my mind demolished their critique. The stramash is still online at:

No academic was ever to criticise my methods. Mind nor was any to ever support me!

In March 2014, I appeared before the Education and Culture Committee at Holyrood, having been reassured by my principal’s very qualified support and by a tidal wave of social media encouragement. UWS would not formally publish it but I had the protection of academic freedom. This event led to much more mainstream media coverage especially around my accurate claim that they had demonised Alex Salmond. The video can be found at:

and the report at:

Subsequent to that I undertook research into Good Morning Scotland’s radio coverage, in April 2014. The results were positively shocking, for an academic, in the level and intensity of anti-Independence tactics employed by BBC Radio Scotland reporters including the frankly unimpressive James Naughtie. The full report is at

During the period before the Referendum, I stopped researching and became a foot-soldier with the South Ayrshire Yes team. It was a great experience despite my bad knees…..and back…and….

In September 2014, I released a video of my thoughts on Propaganda, very much informed from those of the great Noam Chomsky. It’s had more than 100 000 views and can be found at:

In January 2016, I picked up again and covering STV and BBC Scotland TV broadcasts, for over three months, I revealed heavy anti-SNP bias with massive scaremongering of the Scottish NHS, which recent evidence from the Royal College of Emergency Medicine and the US-based Commonwealth Foundation, has been shown to be the best in the World! Luckily the voters seemed to be paying no attention. You can find the full report at:

In the interim, I released free, online, my 50 000 word story of the Referendum coverage and how the emergence of such propaganda can be explained academically, at:

After a wee rest and retiring, I’m on the hunt again, in the build-up to the Scottish Election 2016, reporting weekly to The February 12th edition is at:

In December, 2015, I joined the SNP. As an academic, teaching undergraduates, I felt it was wrong to be in any party. I did flirt with the Greens before joining the SNP, but I prefer a party where I don’t agree with nearly everything and will never win. I’m a keen anti-fracker, anti-Monarchist and anti-NATO, so these will give me something to argue about, inside a party that will win!


Dr John Robertson

Footnote: I handed back the professorship in protest against lack of ethics and strategic incompetence with public funds but that’s another story.