THE BBC has been accused of “failing to deliver” on its editorial guidelines after it emerged that its flagship News at Six did not run a single negative news story about the UK Government last week.

From September 13-17 no stories on the UK-wide news programme featured negative framing of the Westminster Government, research by The National found.

During the same period, Reporting Scotland ran 10 stories about the Scottish Government with a negative framing.

The disparity was identified as political stories on both the News at Six and Reporting Scotland were recorded each evening and categorised based on whether they featured a positive, negative or neutral framing of each government. Negative framing typically includes someone being “accused” of something or forced to “defend” an action.

BBC News at Six political stories by framing September 13-17

The News at Six mainly featured stories that were neutral towards the UK Government, with 17 of the total 24 political stories using this framing. There was also one positively framed story about the UK Government, one neutral package about the Scottish Government and one negatively framed segment on Holyrood.

Meanwhile Reporting Scotland featured just six neutrally framed stories about the SNP government, compared to 10 negative ones. Every UK Government story was framed in a neutral light, and there was just one positive Scottish Government piece.

It is the third time this year The National has carried out the research, and the third time Reporting Scotland has been noticeably more critical of Holyrood than the News at Six has been of Westminster.

Rona Mackay (below), SNP MSP for Strathkelvin and Bearsden, criticised the BBC over the findings.

“The BBC is mandated to ‘due impartiality in all its output’ – but they are failing to deliver on their own editorial guidelines,” she told The National.

The National:

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“It is hard to believe Reporting Scotland and its sensationalist reporting are from the same organisation as the too-often acquiescent BBC News at Six.

“BBC bosses needs to explain to audiences the gross disparity in their editorial treatment between north and south of the Border.”

Most stories with a negative framing of the Scottish Government focused on health last week, with stories covering high ambulance response times, increased Covid-19 deaths, hospitality groups’ criticism of vaccine passport plans and a technical issue preventing full reporting of daily coronavirus figures.

Health stories on the News at Six, however, were presented to viewers through a neutral lens despite touching on similar themes of Covid-19 and planning to see the NHS through a difficult winter.

Reporting Scotland political stoties by framing September 13-17

The 17 neutral stories also included coverage of the Westminster debate on cutting Universal Credit, a move which could push 800,000 people into poverty, according to research from the Legatum Institute think tank.

A spokesperson for the BBC said: “Journalists across the BBC always strive for fairness, accuracy and impartiality in their reporting of news stories for our audiences across all our platforms.”

The new research has been revealed after the Scottish Government hit back at Scottish Tory claims that ministers had put up a “wall of silence” over problems facing the NHS and ambulance service.

At the weekend, BBC Scotland interviewed Tory MSP and GP Sandesh Gulhane – with presenter Martin Geissler saying Humza Yousaf and Jason Leitch had refused to appear on the Sunday Show.

Politics stories by framing on BBC News at Six and Reporting Scotland September 13-17

A spokesperson for the Holyrood Government said the Conservatives’ claims were “false”.

“Government and ministers have been working around the clock and will continue doing so to keep the public informed and to support the NHS through the exceptional and unique pressures it is facing due to the global pandemic,” they said.

“Ministers and clinicians have spoken to the media almost every day last week – the Health Secretary was interviewed on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and today [Sunday], the First Minister addressed Parliament on Thursday and the national clinical director was interviewed on Thursday and Friday.”