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The Media in Scotland

The Media in Scotland

Neil Blain
David Hutchison
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    The Media in Scotland
    Book Description:

    This book brings together academics, writers and politicians to explore the range and nature of the media in Scotland. The book includes chapters on the separate histories of the press, broadcasting and cinema, on the representation and construction of Scotland, the contemporary communications environment, and the languages used in the media. Other chapters consider television drama, soap opera, broadcast comedy, gender, the media and politics, race and ethnicity, gender, popular music, sport and new technology, the place of Gaelic, and current issues in screen fiction.The book offers a comprehensive picture of the media in Scotland and is the first to do so. It raises a number of important questions about how Scotland presents itself at home and abroad as well as analyzing questions of politics, economics and governance. Among the contributors are David Bruce, Myra Macdonald, Brian McNair, Hugh O’Donnell, Mike Russell, Philip Schlesinger and Brian Wilson.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-3182-7
    Subjects: Performing Arts

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
    Neil Blain and David Hutchison

    • 1 A Cause Still Unwon: The Struggle to Represent Scotland
      (pp. 3-19)

      An edition of Lilliput magazine² from precisely the middle of the twentieth century carries an advertisement for the Standard Vanguard saloon. It is part of a series of advertisements featuring ‘All that’s best in Britain’ and features a halfpage, low-angle, upper-body colour shot of a piper in semi-profile, in full Highland military dress with bearskin hat and a white cockade; his bagpipes fill most of the frame. Lit strongly to the face, he is framed against a background of blue sky. The copy fills the third quarter of the page, above a line drawing of a Standard Vanguard saloon:


    • 2 Scots, English and Community Languages in the Scottish Media
      (pp. 20-34)

      The story of Gaelic in the modern Scottish media can be presented as the coherent narrative of a relatively successful campaign to win acknowledgement and support, from the ‘condescending paternalism’ of the BBC Handbooks to the Gaelic Language Act of 2005 (Cormack, this volume). The story of Scotland’s other languages in the media is a less coherent one, complicated as it is by a number of factors. As the majority language of contemporary Scotland, English requires neither definition nor legal support; its nature, status and role are taken for granted. Scots, if taken as the general term for a set...

    • 3 Communications Policy
      (pp. 35-52)

      Communications policy has acquired a particular meaning of late inasmuch as it relates to the formerly separate but now increasingly ‘converged’ fields of broadcasting, telecommunications and wireless communications. These have become a single object of policy intervention because of regulatory change in the UK since the coming into effect of the Communications Act 2003. Communications policy is formally distinct from cultural policy. However, as I shall argue below, there are de facto overlaps. It is, in any case, increasingly plain that legal, technological and economic changes are redefining the nature of tradeable ‘cultural content’ and putting older institutional distinctions under...


    • 4 The History of the Press
      (pp. 55-70)

      Of the three traditional media – press, broadcasting and cinema – it is the press which has the longest history, stretching back, as it does, for over 300 years in Britain and in Scotland. In what follows there will be an attempt to analyse the changes which have taken place over that period, and to locate these in their social, economic and political contexts. For this purpose the history will be divided into three periods, the first running from the earliest times until the middle of the nineteenth century, the second until the middle of the twentieth, and the third covering the...

    • 5 The History of Film and Cinema
      (pp. 71-86)

      The three words ‘Scottish’, ‘film’ and ‘industry’, have never sat comfortably together. Indeed there have always been plenty of people, most famously the great John Grierson, ready to deny the possibility of such a conjunction having any meaning at all.¹ Yet there is no denying that Scottish film production and Scottish cinema exhibition have had many successes, some of them quite outstanding and far-reaching in their effects.

      Whatever else may be said about the history of film in Scotland, one thing is obvious: this is no story of a smooth trajectory from small beginnings to final grand triumph. Rather, it...

    • 6 Broadcasting: From Birth to Devolution ... and Beyond
      (pp. 87-104)

      Prior to the establishment of a Scottish Parliament in July 1999, there were increasing calls from some quarters that in addition to acquiring legislative powers on matters relating to health, education, economic development, law, transport, and the arts, a substantial element of authority over broadcasting should also be wrested from Westminster control. Delivering the Edinburgh Festival’s MacTaggart Lecture in 1996, the then Director-General of the BBC, John Birt, hinted that the BBC would ‘be sensitive to the creation of a Scottish Parliament’ (Smith 1997: 30). For some, this appeared to signal that, with the re-shaping of the UK political landscape,...


    • 7 Three Ring Circus: Television Drama about, by and for Scotland
      (pp. 107-122)
      JOHN R. COOK

      ‘It’s shite [sic] being Scottish.’ So began a vituperative article by Tom Little in Scotland on Sunday on 19 November 2006. Having just watched the highlights of the 2006 BAFTA Scotland awards on TV, Little was moved to quote Renton, Ewan McGregor’s character in the film version of Trainspotting (1996). Where, asked Little, was the quality of BBC Scotland’s drama output to justify its current £180 million a year licence fee income? Looking back to the earlier success of adaptations such as that of Iain Banks’ The Crow Road ten years before (BBC TV 1996) and rejecting current BBC Scotland...

    • 8 ‘Nae Bevvying, Nae Skiving’: Language and Community in the Scottish Soap Opera
      (pp. 123-136)

      The soap opera was one of the great cultural phenomena of the twentieth century. Appearing first on American radio during the Great Depression of the 1930s – its name deriving partly from the fact that the programmes in question were sponsored by large corporations such as Colgate-Palmolive and Procter & Gamble which produced, among other things, detergents – its key structural element was its serial format. In other words, episodes were open-ended and, in contrast to series where each episode is structured around its own self-contained narrative, in the soap opera narratives rolled, potentially endlessly, from one episode to the next. The...

    • 9 Broadcast Comedy
      (pp. 137-150)

      Despite being a very small country, Scotland has produced, in Harry Lauder and Billy Connolly, two of the best, internationally known comedians of the twentieth century. Both Lauder (1870–1950) and Connolly (1942–), made significant, if very different, contributions to comedy broadcasting in this country. It is, therefore, important to acknowledge that the discourses of Lauder and Connolly have played a crucial part in other people’s perceptions of Scotland.

      There were significant variations in the substance and narratives of Lauder and Connolly – when Lauder died in 1950 the swear word ‘fuck’ which is employed throughout Connolly’s act was not...

    • 10 Contemporary Scottish Cinema
      (pp. 151-165)

      In an article in the Scottish cultural magazine, The Drouth, Mark Cousins provocatively bemoaned the lack of a vibrant film culture in Scotland. Putting Iran’s cinematic achievements forward as a – perhaps surprising – example, Cousins identifies several reasons for Scotland’s underdevelopment, most of which revolve around a lack of experimentation and a general absence of interest in exploring the capabilities of the film form. This he puts down to the dominance of an accomplished literary tradition and the consequent development of oral culture rather than a visual alternative. Blame is also laid on various training schemes and funding initiatives espousing the...

    • 11 Radio and Popular Music
      (pp. 166-180)

      The closure of a country music radio station, which was devised and programmed by an American and only available digitally, and its relaunch two months later under a new name in Nashville, Tennessee, might seem to have little to do with the health of Scotland’s radio industry. Still less might it be expected to offer any insight into the characteristics of the Scottish music business. But the sudden switch-off of 3C by Emap plc on 27 March 2007 is subtly indicative of something about the state and future of both these sectors of the creative economy in Scotland.

      3C announced...


    • 12 Gender, Spaces, Changes: Emergent Identities in a Scotland in Transition
      (pp. 183-198)

      Scotland, in common with many small or stateless nations, has struggled with its history and identity. Representation, whether on page, stage or screen, has played a crucial role in that struggle. There are two key trends in the construction of Scottish identity which can be seen as particularly problematic in terms of representations of gender: firstly, the turn to a static past as the guarantor of separate identity (McArthur 1982; Craig 1996); and secondly, the search for a single, unified national identity, whose emphasis on masculinity sees femininity relegated to a supporting or symbolic role, and which neglects to account...

    • 13 Race and Ethnicity in the Media
      (pp. 199-212)

      The bulk of this chapter will analyse in detail two examples of recent press coverage: one of asylum and in particular unrest in detention, and the other the voluntary flight/abduction of Misbah Rana from Scotland to Pakistan. The two case studies are interesting in and of themselves, but they also throw up more general questions.

      Before embarking on the case studies, the chapter starts with some general thoughts on other aspects of the topic. The definition of race and ethnicity is complex, and certainly no less so in the Scottish context than elsewhere. Although the two words are often used...

    • 14 Gaelic, the Media and Scotland
      (pp. 213-226)

      When Headlines: The Media in Scotland was published in 1978, Gaelic received only the most fleeting of mentions (Hutchison 1978). This was not surprising given the minimal amount of the language on television, and the merest outline of a radio service (see Cormack 1993 for an account of Gaelic broadcasting before the 1990s). Since then, however, much has changed in the Scottish media, and Gaelic provision is no exception. This chapter describes the changes and sets them in the international context of minority language media. In doing so, it seeks answers to two questions: How important are the media to...

    • 15 The Scottish Media and Politics
      (pp. 227-242)

      Around the time this chapter was being written, the 300th anniversary of the union between Scotland and England had just been marked, and the third election for the Scottish parliament held. The result of that poll saw the Scottish National Party emerge with the greatest number of votes, and one parliamentary member more than Labour, which thereby lost its political dominance in Scotland for the first time in a generation.¹ This chapter will explore the performance of the Scottish media in post-devolution political life, before turning its attention to the specific coverage of the 2007 election.

      The distinctive nature of...

    • 16 A View from Westminster
      (pp. 243-247)

      Parliamentary reporting, in the straightforward form of placing on record what was said in the House of Commons, is an honourable form of journalism that is now close to extinction.

      Unless one dips into the columns of Hansard, it is very unusual to read an unvarnished summary of Parliamentary proceedings in which the views expressed by ministers and MPs are allocated a few succinct lines and the occasional ringing phrase or significant sentiment is placed on record.

      Nobody, we are told, wants to read it, and this may be true. However, the demise of Parliamentary reporting contributes to one of...

    • 17 A View from Holyrood
      (pp. 248-252)

      On election day I always vote early at home in Argyll before hotfooting it to the South of Scotland and my own constituency. On 3 May 2007, having exercised my choice as MSP in favour of my friend and colleague Jim Mather (who won) and my choice as First Minister in favour of Alex Salmond (ditto), I set off to cross the Clyde and stopped at a newsagent’s in Sandbank near Dunoon. Scanning the counter I felt a thrill of excitement – could it really be that The Sun, which had become the most hostile of cheerleaders for Gordon Brown’s ‘nat...

    • 18 Media Sport
      (pp. 253-270)

      The comment quoted above has a familiar ring to it, drawn as it is from a belief that commerce and greed are somehow to blame for despoiling the nature of sport. This particular quote comes from the Scottish Sport, part of a burgeoning sporting press of the 1890s railing against the formation of the Scottish Football League and the rise of professionalism in football. To any regular consumer of Scottish sports journalism – print and broadcast – the critical, almost self-righteous tone serves as a reminder that the Scottish media have rarely shirked their role as the arbiters of how sport in...

  8. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 271-272)
  9. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 273-274)
  10. Index
    (pp. 275-286)