EAMONN O’Neill, the award winning investigative journalist, media commentator, and regular pundit on Radio Scotland, believes the BBC “screwed up” this week, but, he says, they could come out of the whole experience better and more prepared for the 21st century.

One of the things which may have been missed in this week’s stooshie between the BBC and Wings Over Scotland was the announcement that the corporation is to review their rules around sharing clips of news and current affair programmes online. This, says Dr O’Neill, is something that should have happened a long time ago.

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Had the BBC been more prepared then a row which has resulted in a week of awful coverage for the corporation could have been avoided.

“It should have been done a long time ago so that they were prepared for the complex digital world that we’re already in. They shouldn’t be making up policy as we go along just case by case. That’s just crazy,” he told The National.

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“The arbitrary nature of the decision was just ill-thought-out at best.

“If they are having a revision … It’s actually a chance for BBC Scotland to lead the charge on this and to come out this looking as if they have listened and learned.”

The academic continued: “I’m surprised that a global organisation like the BBC does not have a flexible, proactive policy in place for what constitutes fair use of its copyrighted material.

“Because you’ve got shows at one end of the spectrum that are made by independent producers with different types of copyright content embedded in. That I can understand. It is maybe a bit complex if someone swipes that and fires it up on a YouTube channel.”

But what Wings Over Scotland, Peter Curran, and Labour councillor Scott Arthur had were clips of news and current affairs programmes.

“Nobody’s really going to be buying that,” O’Neill said. “I do think that news and current affairs is something that really does deserve special treatment in terms of fair use and copyright law. It is part of the wider discourse and the public sphere.

“If BBC Scotland led the way it would be fantastic. If they could get an independent review of how they do this in the future, because there is an argument that in this day and age they should be delighted to give it away.

“Because there’s up and coming news outlets like Vice News who are practically throwing this stuff out there desperate to get some kind of traction in the public arena.”

O’Neill praised the journalists at BBC Scotland who did much to hold their colleagues in London to account.

The academic was booked to appeared on John Beattie’s media review on Radio Scotland show on Thursday when the row was being discussed. On the same show was Ian Small, the head of public policy at BBC Scotland, who became the first executive at the corporation to put themselves forward for questioning.

O’Neill says his impression was that the whole row caught BBC Scotland on the hop – much to the frustration of the journalists and management in Pacific Quay.

“I think they’ve done an excellent job. And it speaks to a robust professionalism that really even many hardened supporters of the independence movement have acknowledged online, on Twitter, they have acknowledged that Gary Robertson did a superb job on Good Morning Scotland speaking to Stuart Campbell.

“And they also did a good on the BBC News website. I thought it was neither too much or too little.

“It was a proportionate, solid, substantial piece of journalistic coverage they gave it.”

O’Neill says he was told just 24 hours before the media review was due to air that they would be discussing the Wings issue at the top of the programme.

“Nobody knew that Ian Small was going to take part,” O’Neill said. “John just contacted him literally an hour before to say ‘are you going to come down and do it’ and Ian said ‘yeah’.”

He added: “I think at that point it started to get better because they stopped digging a hole. Ian Small tried to answer some questions”.

O’Neill said he “felt bad for him, in a very non-patronising way”.

“It really spoke to his character that he got down there and did his best. Even though I got the impression they were not in full possession of all the facts and what exactly had happened in London.”

The week, O’Neill said, looked bad for the BBC. “It played into the narrative that BBC Scotland is not equal partners in the BBC power structure in the UK. “