By a Newsnet reporter
Tensions are set to increase between a Holyrood Committee and BBC Scotland management after the broadcaster refused to release results of an in-house survey which asked staff for feedback on planned job-cuts.
The survey was requested by Holyrood’s Culture Committee when BBC Scotland management appeared before it earlier this year following claims that staff morale was at an all-time low and concerns over the effects of job cuts at the station.

However, it has emerged that despite pledging to co-operate with the cross party group of MSPs, BBC Scotland’s head Ken MacQuarrie has now refused to release the survey.

In a letter to the committee, Mr MacQuarrie wrote: “The information which staff provide for the BBC-wide survey is collected on a confidential and anonymous basis and the results of the survey are shared fully with staff; though published internally within BBC Scotland, they are not made freely available outwith the BBC.

“We have already communicated the BBC-wide and the BBC Scotland results to staff and each main department within BBC Scotland will be sharing its own results at a departmental level with teams.”

The decision to withhold the results of the survey will fuel speculation that it backs union claims of morale at an all-time low and worrying stress levels amongst staff in news and current affairs.

Appearing before the committee in January, BBC Scotland bosses were asked to make available a copy of the survey to the MSPs.  The refusal to comply with the request is the third snub to the committee after BBC Scotland management twice refused to appear, a change of mind was only made after an intervention by the head of the BBC Trust Lord Patten.

BBC Scotland is set to shed up to 120 of its 1250 staff over the next five years after London bosses announced it was to slash the station’s £102m budget by £16m.  The plan for compulsory redundancies led to strike action by unions who argued that staff should be re-deployed.

The committee has raised concerns over the ability and willingness on the part of BBC Scotland management to provide sufficient resources to cover the Commonwealth games and the 2014 independence referendum.

Fears of falling standards have coincided with complaints that the station is providing ‘selective’ coverage of the referendum debate with two foreign ministers complaining that their comments on the EU status of an independent Scotland were not reported accurately.

Some former BBC editors have also claimed that the cuts are causing “real damage” to news and current affairs coverage.  Writing in the Scotsman newspaper former reporters and editors attacked what they called “highly damaging decisions by BBC Scotland management”.

Former reporters David Calder and Eric Crockart, former news editor Carole Bentley and former political correspondent Kit Fraser were joined by former editor of Good Morning Scotland Douglas MacLeod.

In their letter, the five wrote of their “concern at the real damage being inflicted on BBC Scotland’s news and current affairs operation.”

Another who has criticised management is Professor Tom Devine.  The Historian has highlighted falling standards at Radio Scotland and talked of “rampant demoralisation” which he said was “obvious to any aware observer”.

Speaking in January, he said: “Scotland’s quality print media are in dire financial straits at one of the most momentous periods in the history of the nation.  Hence the responsibility of the broadcast media has never been greater for information, comment, debate, the clash of opinions and the investigative power of first-class journalism.”

He added: “There remain presenters and interviewers of weight and authority, such as Derek Bateman, Izzy Fraser and Brian Taylor, but they are unrepresentative of the whole.”

The broadcaster also came under fire last month after claiming that it did not have to provide balanced coverage of the independence debate because the campaign had not yet officially started.


2013-03-27 00:49

I think we have to accept that the BBC is above this type of scrutiny.

These good chaps would never behave in a manner other than perfect. They have a world class reputation as they keep reminding us.

The best of British journalism and the highest ethics – now move along – nothing to see here.

They do operate under a Royal Charter you know!
2013-03-27 00:51

And bbc “Scotland” commented “La, la, la! we can’t hear you for God Save the Queen being played very loudly!

And the “Scottish” print media said “La, la, la! don’t want to hear you because we have a different agenda. And if you don’t vote NO our foreign owners won’t be happy!

A plague on all their houses.

Still, my sympathies go to those who will end up unemployed. It might not have happened in an independent Scotland.
Dougie Douglas
2013-03-27 04:06

Most organisations do not publish internal reports. It is very obvious that the results of this audit would show poor morale – it is an absolute given.

However I think we should be saving our fire for direct criticism of their output rather than things like this.
2013-03-27 08:44

Hi Dougie. Yes most organisations would not publish internal surveys, but the BBC in Scotland is NOT most organisations. It is fully paid for by OUR taxes (i.e. the licence fee) so WE are the owners, and as an owner I want to know what the morale is of the staff who will be broadcasting about OUR referendum.

They won’t, of course, as they think that they are above scrutiny. And indeed, the facts appear to support that view. Where is Patton? What are the BBC Trust actually doing, except take OUR taxes as salary?

Time long past for change
2013-03-27 13:44

NHS Scotland managed to publish this data (they’re another public body like the BBC)…/…

2013-03-27 08:05

I can’t imagine that the survey would provide much information of use.
There will be the yes men and those terrified of losing their jobs who give acceptable replies to protect themselves – understandably.

We’ll just have to stop watching the drivel and ordure en masse and or deny them the oxygen of the licence fee.
2013-03-27 09:07

Is it possible for the Scottish Government to decriminalise non payment of licence fee ? Just a thought .
2013-03-27 09:58

“Democracy Live”
I notice the BBC are at it again on the Scotland site it being the only one that you can’t see the “Who’s who by party”I will probably be given the same answer I got the last time,they were upgrading the site.
2013-03-27 10:56

Their day is coming and they probably know it. Just taking orders from london will be their defence. More and more listeners and readers are gradually becoming aware of their anti-independence agenda of doing Scotland down. None of their so called front line journalists have much public respect or credit left, the online media such as NNS has exposed them for what they really are. 18 months to go with many more of their negative stories and commentaries plus interviews to go…then finished and they will have to head towards what is left of their beloved union….go quietly please.
2013-03-27 11:01

We need a Whistle Blower within bbc Scotland to release these internal reports on the internet.
2013-03-27 11:18

Seems there was a DDOS on “Radio Free Scotland” last night, I had problems connecting to the site.Also problems with posting anything mentioning RFS(you had to use Captcha).
Andy Anderson
2013-03-27 13:30

We should take a list of all the BBC employees who are made redundant, because after September 2014 we will be looking for good News and Current Affairs reporters for the Scottish Broadcasting Corporation having had to dismiss a number of incompetent senior staff who had failed to meet the terms of the BBC charter.
wee e
2013-03-29 21:58

As for the news teams looking at losing their jobs, I’m inclined to say a heartless “hell mend them”, since they have got just what they keep telling us is so good for us all: bosses hundreds of miles away who don’t know what the needs are or what the conditions are up here, or how anything works. Who tell them it’s been decided, like it or lump it.

It’s a well-deserved irony.

(Actually, I know there has to be a variety of views even in the newsroom, and I don’t wish the loss of a job and a wage on anyone.)
2013-04-01 06:48

Let them know that they will loose all tax and money from Scottish License fees after 2014. They will have to prove themselves worthy of our trust……..if that is possible.

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