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Will the Rangers & STV partnership lead to biased reporting?

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The deal between the two organisations from an online commercial perspective, includes content development and brand promotion according to the official Rangers website.

It’s not the first time that Rangers Football Club have worked with a section of the Scottish mainstream media, earlier this year the Daily Record streamed the Champions League qualifying game against Swedish side Malmo. This link-up was aimed at fans outside the UK, Ireland and Sweden.

Ali Russell, Rangers chief operating officer, said at the time: “Once again Rangers are leading the way in the digital media field and we are delighted to team up with the Daily Record to provide our overseas supporters with live coverage of the Malmo game. Our ground-breaking live UK coverage of the Hearts game on RangersTV.tv was a huge success and our global fanbase will be able to watch our crucial Champions League qualifier on our internet TV station and the Daily Record website.”

The partnership will kick off tonight with RangersTV broadcasting all the action from the Glasgow derby match at Celtic Park, which STV will promote on its website to target its international audience.

Russell said of the STV partnership: “We are delighted to be working with STV to develop and maximise joint online brand and commercial opportunities that benefit both organisations. Rangers is an international brand and we aim to utilise all platforms to maximise the brand both at home and abroad.

“The partnership with STV is part of optimising these opportunities and we will be developing new initiatives throughout the season.”

STV Director of Channels, Bobby Hain said: “We are delighted to be working with Rangers in the online area and believe that this arrangement will be hugely beneficial to both parties. As STV’s unrivalled reach and impact continues to expand across all platforms, we aim to work with a wide range of football and sporting organisations, creating opportunities for them to promote their brand in innovative ways.”

While Rangers have been promoting this deal through their official website, STV nor it’s parent company STV Group [formerly SMG]have been decidedly silent on the whole matter other than a number of their staff members commenting on it, via the social network site Twitter.

Given that both organisations will profit from the partnership, questions have already been raised by members of the public and among members of the National Union of Journalists, according to The Guardian’s Roy Greenslade.

So will this partnership hold STV to hostage over their reporting of the club? Given Rangers’ exploits this season in regards to banning sections of the media over what they claim as ‘biased’ and ‘unfair’ reporting of issues related to the club, the tax issue and even it’s owner Craig Whyte, can STV and it’s parent company STV Group report on all issues with the club fairly and balanced?

If an article is negative in its reporting over issues relating to the club’s tax case, it’s owner or even such news as transfer deals or reporting on matches, will Rangers take umbrage with STV over it and ban them pulling out of the partnership? Such a boycott would hit STV in the pocket, so is it fair to question the company’s reporting when money is involved?

Despite questions over STV’s fair reporting on Rangers, Celtic and the rest of Scottish Football, members of the company have published their thoughts on twitter stating that they will continue to work as they have always done and that nothing will change. But again when big business is involved, the board of directors, chairman Richard Findlay and chief executive Rob Woodward are the ones who rule the roost with journalists at the bottom of the corporate ladder having to follow the editorial code of conduct and directives from the STV head honchos.

Favouring one side of the Old Firm or the other is always a risky business, while working in tandem with both increases profits for the respective company. Currently Tennent’s profit from their kit sponsorship of both Celtic and Rangers as do Coca Cola and previously Carling, so the question is why have STV not linked up with both sides of the Old Firm – it would certainly help their purse strings if they have both sides of the Old Firm ‘on their books’.

One member of the NUJ told The Guardian’s Roy Greenslade that such a deal could compromise the channel’s reporters. The NUJ member told Greenslade: “I seriously fear that our members on the STV newsdesk will not be able to do their job properly, and may not be allowed to do so. For example, one of the biggest football stories in Scotland concerns Rangers football club’s tax troubles. Can they report fairly on that? Will they report it at all?”

There are questions still to be answered by the head honchos at STV, as their journalists defend their position, credibility and integrity of their reporting. But when the board of directors issue directives for all their staff to jump, they either jump or they get pushed out the door. So it will be interesting to see if the coverage changes where Rangers, Craig Whyte and the club’s fans are involved. Sadly it will be the sports journalists working for STV that will bear the brunt of all criticism, claims of biased reporting and abuse, than those responsible for the financial deal.

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About Author

scotzine

Andy Muirhead is the Editor of Scotzine and the Scottish Football fanzine FITBA. He is the Scottish Football columnist for The Morning Star and has written for a number of other publications including ESPN, Huffington Post UK, BT Life's a Pitch and has had his work featured in the Daily Record, The Scotsman and the Daily Mail.

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