Many Scots see the UK’s “national media” as London-based and London-biased, and prefer to listen to Scottish radio programmes, read Scottish newspapers, and – albeit to a much lesser extent – watch Scottish TV. Local papers are also avidly consumed, with the weekly papers in places like Orkney and Shetland read by virtually the entire adult population.
The Scottish press centres on two serious dailies – The Scotsman, published in tabloid format and based in Edinburgh, and The Herald, a broadsheet published in Glasgow. Both offer good coverage of the current issues affecting Scotland, along with British and foreign news, sport, arts and lifestyle pages. Scotland’s biggest-selling dailies are the downmarket Daily Record, a tabloid from the same stable as the Daily Mirror, and the local edition of The Sun. Most of the main UK newspapers do produce specific Scottish editions, although the “quality” press, ranging between the right-wing Daily Telegraph and the left-of-centre Guardian, are justifiably seen in Scotland as being London papers.
The provincial daily press in Scotland is more widely read than its English counterpart, with the two biggest-selling regional titles being Aberdeen’s famously parochial Press and Journal, read in the northeast, Orkney and Shetland, and the right-wing Dundee Courier, mostly sold in Perth, Angus, Tayside and Fife. The weekly Oban Times gives an insight into life in the Highlands and Islands, but is staid compared with the radical, campaigning weekly West Highland Free Press, printed on Skye; both carry articles in Gaelic as well as English. Further north, the lively Shetland Times and sedate Orcadian are essential weekly reads.
Many national Sunday newspapers have a Scottish edition, although Scotland has its own offerings – Scotland on Sunday, from the Scotsman stable, and the Sunday Herald, complementing its eponymous daily. Far more fun and widely read is the anachronistic Sunday Post, published by Dundee’s D.C. Thomson publishing group. It’s a wholesome paper, uniquely Scottish, and has changed little since the 1950s, since which time its two long-running cartoon strips, Oor Wullie and The Broons, have acquired cult status.
Scottish monthlies include the glossy Scottish Field, a parochial version of England’s Tatler, covering countryside interests along with local travel and fashion, and the widely read Scots Magazine, an old-fashioned middle-of-the-road publication which promotes family values and lots of good fresh air.
TV and radio
In Scotland there are five main (sometimes called “terrestrial”) TV channels: state-owned BBC1 and BBC2, and independent commercial channels, ITV1, Channel 4 and Five. BBC Scotland produces news programmes and a regular crop of local-interest lifestyle, current affairs, drama and comedy shows which slot into the schedules of both BBC channels. The commercial channel ITV1 is divided between three regional companies in Scotland: populist Scottish Television (STV), which is received in most of south-central Scotland and parts of the West Highlands; Grampian, based in Aberdeen; and Border, which transmits from Carlisle. There’s also the quirkier though often trashy Channel 4, and downmarket Five, which still can’t be received in some parts of Scotland.
The BBC radio network broadcasts six main channels in Scotland, five of which are national stations originating largely from London: Radio 1 (pop and dance music), Radio 2 (mainstream pop, rock and light music), Radio 3 (classical music), Radio 4 (current affairs, arts and drama) and Radio 5 Live (sports, news and live discussions and phone-ins). Only the award-winning BBC Radio Scotland offers a Scottish perspective on news, politics, arts, music, travel and sport, as well as providing a Gaelic network in the Highlands with local programmes in Shetland, Orkney and the Borders.
A web of local commercial radio stations covers the country, mostly mixing rock and pop music with news bulletins, but a few tiny community-based stations such as Lochbroom FM in Ullapool – a place famed for its daily midge count – transmit documentaries and discussions on local issues. The most populated areas of Scotland also receive UK-wide commercial stations such as Classic FM, Virgin Radio and TalkSport. With a DAB digital radio, you can get all the main stations crackle-free along with special interest and smaller-scale stations.
Some Scottish radio stations
BBC Radio Scotland 92–95FM, 810MW bbc.co.uk/radioscotland. Nationwide news, sport, music, current affairs and arts.
Clyde 1 102.5FM radioclyde.com. Glasgow’s main contemporary rock and pop station. The slightly mellower Clyde 2 is at 1152MW.
Lochbroom FM 102.2 & 96.8FM lochbroomfm.co.uk. One of Britain’s smallest radio stations, broadcasting to the northwest coast from Ullapool.
Moray Firth 97.4FM, 1107MW mfr.co.uk. Mainstream rock and pop for the youth of the Inverness area.
Nevis Radio 96.6 & 102.3FM nevisradio.co.uk. All that’s happening in Fort William and surrounds, from the slopes of Ben Nevis.
North Sound 96.9FM, 1035MW northsound.co.uk. Pumps out the latest tunes for Aberdeen.
Radio Forth 97.3FM radioforth.com. Rock and pop for Edinburgh and around. Forth 2 at 1548MW is their easier-listening stablemate.
Radio Tay 96.4 & 102.8FM, 1161 & 1584MW radiotay.co.uk. Dundee’s local radio.
Real Radio 100–101FM realradiofm.com. Mainstream pop and shock jocks for the central belt.
SIBC 96.2FM sibc.co.uk. Shetland’s own independent station.