Is BBC NI a propagandist for the Union?

Broadcasting House in Belfast

I was taken aback somewhat by a phrase in an article entitled Scottish Six news programme plans are dead, Whitehall insiders confirm in the newspaper Herald Scotland.

According to the paper’s UK Political Editor, Michael Settle,  these so-called insiders “referred to the draft BBC charter stressing how the corporation must “contribute to the social cohesion and wellbeing of the United Kingdom,” and suggested that a Scottish news programme replacing the main UK news at 6pm “would be in breach of the new charter.”

Of course, this got me thinking about BBC NI. Is it the job of Ormeau Avenue to “contribute to the social cohesion and wellbeing of the United Kingdom,” an avowed political aim, and where does that leave those who believe that the UK is, at best, a conceit?

Where does that leave the much vaunted of BBC impartiality, especially in an area such as ours, with the constitutional question the cause of much bloodshed and horror?

Does the draft Charter (which was published this week) mean that BBC NI is an active player in promoting the idea of a United Kingdom and how does that filter down to what we see on our screens or hear on our radios or online.

Equally importantly, are any views antipathetical to what might be seen as the wellbeing of the Union “beyond the Pale”, tolerated like an aging aunt whose marbles have gone awol? “Yes, yes dear. It’s time for your medicine now.”

It’s all to do with hegemony of course, the ideological or cultural power influenced by a dominant group over other groups achieved, in part, through the media.

The BBC is obviously doing a fine job given two Newton Emerson articles recently, Unionists are oblivious to anything south of Newry in the Sunday Times and I do not feel Irish in the slightest in the Irish Times in which he talks about the influence of television in the forming of his own identity.

He wasn’t discomfited by the use of the word Taoiseach or those pesky GAA games or the Irish language.

Having said that, BBC NI’s Irish language output on TV and radio is excellent but when it comes to news and current affairs programmes which deal with the language, it is truly appalling.

Does the BBC outpost in Belfast have its own Articles 2 and 3 when its radio station is called Radio Ulster and its morning news programme is called Good Morning Ulster, claiming three counties outside its jurisdiction?

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