Just last week the – increasingly inane – Breaksfast Show on BBC 1 TV was headlining the story about older people being given free admission to swimming pools. At 6.41 am I emailed the show pointing out 1) the story only related to England and 2) Wales had been doing it for years:
“I don’t know about Scotland or Northern Ireland but your news item about swimming should at least point out that us older people in Wales have had free swimming for a long time.
So, do you mean, “the UK government has decided that older people in England should join those in Wales and get free admission to their local swimming pool”?
Please: acknowledge that there are four nations, that we do things differently (free prescriptions, swimming, hospital car parks et al) and credit the devolved governments accordingly ….”
I cannot have been the only one since the bulletin was changed – it became more accurate “in England”, “local authority pools” etc, but still no mention that anywhere else might already be in the lead.
Now the BBC Trust has told the corporation the blindingly obvious – get your national coverage right: make it national, not English, not parochial London. The surprise is not the conclusions, but the surprise at something anyone with half an eye or ear could have detected in 24 hours watching or listening to the BBC.
I used to be agnostic about the idea of the home nations taking control of their own news output. Two things have changed my mind: the ability of the BBC to produce national news programmes (in Welsh, but they are always subtitled as well) for S4C and the absolute inability of London based journalists to get even the simplest things right. So, slash the BBC’s central budgets; devolve news to the nations; boost Wales’ (and Scotland and Northern Ireland’s) indigineous media industries. And if that means lots of narrow minded (bigoted even?), blinkered, second rate London journos getting sacked – bring it on.