THE UK's media regulator has warned the BBC to be more transparent about its editorial decisions amid SNP concerns over the broadcaster "failing to reflect public opinion in Scotland".

A new report from Ofcom found that the public is unhappy about the broadcaster's impartiality and complaints process.

Complaints about the BBC are nearly twice as high than they are for any other broadcasters, the watchdog said.

The media regulator tracked audiences’ experiences and interactions with the BBC and found that one in nine people felt they had something to complain about.

However, most of them ultimately chose not to because they felt it either wouldn’t make any difference or that they wouldn’t be taken seriously.

According to the SNP, the report should be a "wake-up call" for the corporation - and described the findings as an example of why the BBC should better reflect views on independence.

Ofcom’s chief executive Melanie Dawes said: “Viewers and listeners tell us they aren’t happy with how the BBC handles their complaints, and it clearly needs to address widespread perceptions about its impartiality.

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“So we’re directing it to respond to these concerns, by being much more transparent and open with its audiences.”

Speaking to The National, the SNP spokesperson called for the public broadcaster to be more open about how it puts together audiences for shows like Question Time, and explain decision-making on the use of clips of members of the public expressing their political views. 

In recent years the corporation has faced questions over impartiality - from concerns over the number of conservative panel members on flagship political programmes, to anger over repeated audience appearances.

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Last month balance on Question Time was called into question as right-wing voices dominated the debate – as of the five guests, three had links to the Tories.

Tory MP Lucy Frazer, Conservative Home columnist Emily Carver and former Home Office adviser and ex-Downing Street press chief Mo Hussein all joined the panel. When the BBC was asked for an explanation of the group’s make-up, The National was told “a number of factors” including topicality, elections, referendums and size of parties influence the process.

Last year, The National put further questions to the BBC over how audiences are selected when host Fiona Bruce told viewers the crowd had been “carefully” chosen to ensure they were pro-Brexit.

The BBC told us that Question Time “always selects its audiences to reflect recent voting trends”, and that it aims to reflect differences across the UK.

After the announcement of Nicola Sturgeon's latest independence push, the BBC faced questions over the use of “vox pops” – clips which see members of the public give their views on a certain topic.

The SNP warned that the broadcaster may be giving a “false picture of Scottish public opinion” through unrepresentative vox pops, as majority pro-Union voices were featured in Dundee and Glasgow.

An SNP source told The National: “Ofcom finding that the BBC rates poorly on impartiality should act as a wake-up call for BBC bosses.

“A full transparent review of how the BBC compiles guests and audiences for political programmes would be a welcome start."

“Transparency on its methodology for gathering and selecting vox-pops for news bulletins would also be most welcome.”

The report also found that people rated the BBC highly for trust and accuracy.

The spokesperson added: “The BBC’s dependency on right-wing Unionist media commentators and newspapers skews their news cycle and fails to reflect public opinion in Scotland.

“The same publications and opinions reappearing time and again ignores the fact that around 50% of people support independence.

“Also, audiences should be able to understand why BBC Scotland regularly politicises news stories that the BBC network does not.

The National:

“Delivering parity in treatment is essential for the BBC to begin to regain audience trust on impartiality.”

In April, the Westminster government released a white paper which, if implemented, will reshape broadcasting across the UK.

Specifically, this aims to ensure that TV-like content, no matter how it is consumed by audiences, is subject to Ofcom's standards. 

This should make it easier for people to lodge a complaint if they feel it is necessary. 

A BBC spokesperson said: “Like any organisation we work to make continuous improvements, which is why we published a 10-point plan on impartiality and editorial standards last year.

“Everyone knows this is an absolute priority for the BBC, and Ofcom rightly recognises impartiality is a complex area, audiences hold us to a higher standard than other broadcasters and that we have a good record of complying with broadcasting rules.

“In addition, the BBC has the most thorough and transparent complaints process in UK media and we are committed to being accessible and accountable to our audiences. We will work with Ofcom to make further improvements to this system.”