Digital Transformation

Scottish news website Bella Caledonia launches 'buycott' plan to redirect BBC licence fee funds amid bias row

By Angela Haggerty | Reporter

September 26, 2014 | 4 min read

Scottish politics site Bella Caledonia has announced plans to launch a ‘buycott’ – a request for readers in Scotland disillusioned with the Scottish mainstream media to redirect licence fee or newspaper subscription payments into funding Scotland’s alternative media scene.

Mike Small, editor and founder of the website – which launched in 2007 and has already raised six-figure sums from public donations to fund content – announced the plans on the BBC’s Scotland 2014 programme during a debate about alleged pro-union bias of the mainstream media during the referendum campaign.

He told the programme: “Tomorrow we’ll be launching a buycott to re-channel energy for people who want to give up their licence fee to the BBC or their commitment to newspapers and pay instead to online services, and that’s going to happen in a huge way.”

Bella Caledonia

Buycott: Bella Caledonia is asking readers to re-direct funds

During the studio debate with BBC editorial policies chief adviser Rick Bailey and John McLellan of the Scottish Newspaper Society, Small warned that “complacency” from the BBC in their response to accusations of bias would drive people further towards alternative online media services, and said the website’s coming plans would “completely transform” Scotland’s media.

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“Some people call it the fifth estate, where people are enabled citizens who are empowered to know how to translate media and create content, and that’s what we’re doing,” he said. “There’ll be podcasts, video, blogs, all sorts of content that will completely transform the media landscape in Scotland, and that’s about to happen.”

At its best, Bella Caledonia attracted more than 500,000 unique users a month in the run up to Scottish independence referendum, peaking at one million in August, and it has branched its investment out into creating a print product, ‘Closer’, in a bid to reach readers who are not online.

A more comprehensive outline of Bella Caledonia’s plans will be published later today on its website.

Before the referendum, The Drum spoke to Mike Small of Bella Caledonia and the editors of similar alternative sites Wings Over Scotland and Newsnet Scotland to find out more about the rise of Scotland’s new media (video below).

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