NUJ members urge BBC to resign from CBI over its support for referendum No campaign

Members of the NUJ in Scotland urged BBC Scotland resign from the Confederation of British Industry over its support for the Scottish referendum’s No campaign.

A meeting attended by 50 BBC NUJ members in Glasgow yesterday backed a resolution to be sent to bosses demanding that the BBC has nothing more to do with the CBI. The broadcaster suspended its membership at the end of last week several days after fellow Scottish broadcaster STV resigned from the group.

STV said it had no choice but to resign because it was a public service broadcaster with “a duty of impartiality”.

This followed a row over the CBI officially registering with the Electoral Commission as a supporter of the pro-union Better Together Campaign earlier this month. STV and a number of other high profile members resigned quickly when the move was made public including universities and government agencies such as Scottish Enterprise and VisitScotland.

BBC Scotland did not do so immediately but came under pressure from business groups and Yes supporters to make its stance clear. It eventually announced it would suspend its membership until after the vote on an independent Scotland on 18 September.

Scottish NUJ organiser Paul Holleran said: "There is a real concern and anxiety about the damage that CBI membership is causing. Journalists are already under enough pressure without being caught up in a shambles that is not of their making.

“We share the concerns of professional journalists at the BBC, whose reputation for neutrality is of the upmost importance. It is not appropriate that the actions of the BBC management should be allowed to create the suggestion that the organisation and its journalists support a particular political position by association."

Holleran told Press Gazette that members at the meeting talked about how they have been feeling under pressure for months due to criticism over the BBC being biased towards the No campaign. He said they were surprised to discover the BBC was a member of the CBI.

BBC Scotland said in a statement: “In order to protect the BBC’s neutrality, the CBI and the BBC have agreed to suspend the BBC’s membership during the business group’s registration period under the terms of the Scottish Referendums Act 2013."

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