By G.A.Ponsonby

BBC chiefs have been criticised after it emerged the amount of hours dedicated to news and current affairs in Scotland has been reduced to its lowest level for ten years.

The revelation was contained in a BBC Management Review report which reveals that the corporation has cut its news and current affairs output in Scotland to the lowest point since 2002/03 with 478 hours transmitted over the 12-month period.

The cut has prompted Graeme Dey, MSP for Angus South, to express concern that the BBC is short-changing viewers north of the border at the most important period in the nation’s history.

With Westminster cuts impacting decisions on BBC funding, Mr Dey said the reduction in television news and current affairs output was further proof that broadcasting powers should be held by the Scottish Parliament rather than Westminster to ensure the best possible deal for viewers.

Mr Dey said: “With just over a year until the independence referendum it is particularly concerning that news and current affairs content in Scotland has reduced from 504 hours in 2011/12 to 478 hours in 2012/13 – the lowest number for 10 years.

“I fear that there could be a serious impact on the coverage of this historic event as a result of these cutbacks.

“I have concerns about the potential harmful effects of the cuts by the BBC in Scotland. BBC Scotland’s baseline budget is being slashed by 16 per cent – with jobs losses and reductions across online, television and radio programming.”

The BBC plans to axe millions of pounds from Scottish programme making despite around £320m being generated by licence fee payers in Scotland.

Mr Dey added: “The SNP is committed to protecting public service broadcasting.  The BBC is Scotland’s national broadcaster and should be resourced to report on Scottish, UK and international events – particularly at this important time in Scotland’s journey.”

The cutback to programming comes just over a week after BBC Scotland Head of News and Current Affairs John Boothman defended the corporation’s news output, including its handling of the independence debate.

Speaking on The Media Show, Mr Boothman challenged claims from Allan Rennie of the Daily Record that the BBC was being “too timid” in its coverage of the referendum and insisted that BBC Scotland had covered the independence debate “well” and would “rack up” its coverage from next week.

Allan Rennie and John Boothman on The Media Show

The broadcaster has lost several experienced reporters in the last few months.  Last week it emerged that Raymond Buchanan had left BBC Scotland.  Mr Buchanan’s decision to leave the corporation followed a similar decision by respected broadcaster Derek Bateman to take early retirement.

There have been concerns raised about the ability of BBC Scotland to cover the independence referendum in an in depth and informative manner.

In July this year, the Scottish NUJ expressed concern after BBC Scotland announced its intention to use money to recruit of up to 15 trainees who will work on a “raft of programmes” on the referendum – but will have no jobs at the end of it.

The NUJ also warned that the quality of reporting from the potential candidates could suffer, saying: “It appears they don’t need to have any journalistic skills or qualifications.  This certainly raises the question of quality and ethics.”


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2013-09-13 17:03

On the day when the BBC deliberately it would appear suppresses a story to try and avoid further embarrassment to Ms Lamont and Labour
Jo Bloggs
2013-09-13 17:21

I reckon the less ‘news’ and current affairs the BBC broadcast, the better for the level of debate. The sooner they pack up altogether, the happier I’ll be, and the better off Scotland will be.
call me dave
2013-09-13 17:37

Graeme Dey, MSP has to be commended for picking the details up in the management review and raising it as an issue.

It also supports many on here and in other places that there has been a reduction in political coverage and quality of the presentation.
Turning the controls down to a minimum on the flow of information and debate is a tactic that the BBC is guilty of.
But colouring the information a particular hue is self evident to all who are interested in politics and is biased.

Will they change…eg: Will the dreadful daily dirge on morning radio Scotland be upgraded. Aye right.
2013-09-13 17:53

So the BBC Trust, (a misnomer if ever there were), are due to examine the conduct of BBC Scotland regarding the reporting of the former Irish Minister of State for European Affairs’ views on Scotland and the EU.

The journalist who ran the piece in question, (itself being described by Lucinda Creighton TD as having “misconstrued” and “manipulated” her opinions and words), Raymond Buchanan, has now left BBC Scotland.

We learn that Mr Buchanan is to take up a post with the Weir Group; a company which makes no secret of its views on the independence debate……/……/…

Are we to assume there’ll be more of the same to come from Weir’s new Group Communications man? I wonder…
2013-09-13 18:24

Let this shambles die.
A new, fit for purpose organisation, appropriate to Scotland, will arise.
2013-09-13 19:14

Perhaps the “rack up” was a Feudian slip, it is more usual to use “ramp up” for an increase in output.

However given the recent reduction of BBC Scotland’s Scottish output it must be torture for the management to have to actually spend the licence fee extorted in Scotland on Broadcasting instead of megabucks golden handshakes, paedophiles, etc. that they used “rack up“. But maybe not.
2013-09-13 20:06

I trust Fox News more than the BBC News now. (I’m not praising Fox News here!)
Will C
2013-09-13 21:04

Personally I prefer Pravda and like you I am not posting in praise of Pravda!

2013-09-13 20:16

Very interesting this and brave comments from Mr Rennie of the ‘Record’ who nearly made Boothman choke on his abernethy biscuit!
Cant wait for BBC to rack up coverage (support for the No Campaign); I suppose he means when Naughty & Wark get involved ….. dear god we all wait in anticipation for a the more professional ‘proud scot’ approach of these two who have made their livings abroud covering ‘westminster politics’ tactful yet again BBC. To the UK State Broadcaster line
Leader of the Pack
2013-09-13 22:10

I agree with Jo Bloggs. Considering the quality lack of impartiality and lack of news worthiness I think its a good thing. The less we hear from the BBC the better. let them fade away to nothing after the referendum.
2013-09-13 22:27

Aye, it’s ok to say hell mend the BBC but they will have a lot of power and influence over what facts and information gets to the voters in the run up to the big vote. I agree though that Lamont’s blunder ( how bad is she!)
seems to have been dropped from coverage.
The feeling is often that complaining gets you nowhere but we own the BBC as much as onybody and as licence payers our voice cannot at least go unrecorded,so carry on complaining! Get your complaints ready for the biased coverage (guaranteed) of the indy rally next week! Aye,and be there!
2013-09-13 23:27

The headline says it all, the objective of the British government is to create apathy towards the ‘referendum’, which is being controlled by the UK media towards a no vote.
2013-09-14 07:01

Pay more = Get Less. It’s the British way is it not. Make cuts, keep the bloated top heavy management, deny the people fair and balanced reporting whilst spitting in their faces.
What a wonderful ‘modern’ device the Establishment have to spill their bile and hatred of Scots into their pwn living rooms. Now having done that they stretch out their hands for more license tax money.
It’s not the BBC who is at fault here for they are who they are, it is the foolish people who pay to be slapped in the face – daily.
Ready to Start
2013-09-14 07:41

While we can take consolation that three times as many people watch STVs Scotland To-night than watch Newsnight Scotland, BBC’s coverage is concerning.

Last Thursday’s Newnight Scotland was a case in point when Gordon Brewer continually cut short Stewart Maxwell no doubt due to time constraints …surely nothing to do with political bias.
2013-09-14 07:46

Imagine an impartial but pro-Scotland state broadcaster .. It’ll be a different country.

All those at the BBC and elsewhere who are responsible for the current anti-Scottish propaganda can crawl back under the rocks from which they came, never to be heard of again.
2013-09-14 09:07

Given the biased, partisan coverage from the BBC, the less coverage the better.
2013-09-14 09:31

We are always being told about people power so were is the people power in this country? As a group we should say no to the state run puppet from down south and stop giving them our money and they should be told to desist from spreading lies and misinformation
H Scott
2013-09-14 09:52

The BBC is a British nationalist organisation.
2013-09-14 10:22

The cut represents just 7 minutes per day, and this in an era of news saturation when you rarely hear anything very new in the bulletins. Sounds like a sensible cost saving measure to me. Hopefully they will also lay off more of their vacuous, overpaid celebrities too!

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