Your Noon Briefing: BBC plans unveiled, XFM Scotland, etc

THE BBC has pledged to work more closely with the UK’s arts and science institutions to “make Britain the greatest cultural force in the world”.

Reports the BBC – here – its director general, Tony Hall, this morning set out plans for the next decade, saying the Corporation will become an “open BBC for the internet age”.

A children’s iPlayer and a pool of local reporters who will share work with local newspapers are also planned.

Lord Hall was laying out plans ahead of the BBC’s Charter renewal next year.

Among the first to react was the Scottish Newspaper Society, which issued an statement (here), beginning: “The BBC’s new proposal to hire 100 journalists to provide a news service for local newspapers is a Trojan horse which will undermine long-established publications and destroy local news agencies.”

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THE licence for the Scots radio station, XFM Scotland, is being handed back to broadcasting regulators, Ofcom, as part of an UK-wide revamping of the XFM service as Radio X.

But while XFM London and XFM Manchester are being turned into the single FM licence, Radio X, the stations owners, Global, say regulations prevent XFM Scotland being part of it.

Radio X will be available to Scots listeners on DAB and XFM Scotland will be no more as of next Monday.

Global operates the Heart, Smooth and Capital brands in Scotland, so job losses are expected to be confined to a couple of presenter contracts not being renewed, and Global is consulting with staff to find other suitable opportunities at the company.

Operating from Paisley, the station launched as Q96 in September 1992, before becoming Rock Radio then Real Radio XS, and more recently XFM Scotland.

A spokesperson for Global said: “We are making some changes to XFM which affect a small but important number of presenters and staff. These sorts of decisions are always difficult and we’d like to thank the presenters who are moving on for their huge contribution to the station over the years and wish them well for the future.

“A very small number of staff members in Manchester and Glasgow will be affected. We are keen for them to stay with us and are working with them to find other suitable opportunities at Global.

“Under current regulatory policy, we can’t further network our programmes in Scotland and so we’ve taken the difficult decision to hand the Paisley licence back to the regulator, Ofcom.”

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PAT Kane, in The National, on Saturday, begins: “For all adults with beloved children in their lives, seeing Alan Kurdi’s toddler body prostrate at the water’s edge is like a nightmare made real.

“It’s the kind of mental image that shoots you bolt upright in the middle of the night, panting with relief that you’re under a familiar quilt, and that your darlings are safely located.

“But there’s no relief with this picture.

“And thus – even in a digital age where we presume almost any image can be manufactured – here is the power of photography.

“Or, to be exact, press photography.

“Dispatched by her Turkish news agency to observe Europe-bound migrants in the area, the 29 year-old photographer, Nilufer Demir, came upon the bodies of Alan and his five year-old brother, Ghalib, on Ali Hoca beach, around 6am this Wednesday.”

Read more, here.

And on a similar theme, John Mullin, in Saturday’s Scotsman, begins: “It’s one of the earliest things we imbibe, along with crossing the road properly, or our times tables, or doing joined up letter writing – that old saying: a picture tells a thousand words.

“Newspaper editors like to deal in such essential, simple truths. Though they might affect otherwise, they tend to be rather straightforward people, and a great photograph is – and always has been – prized above all else in print.”

Read more, here.

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SAYS the Scottish Government, in an announcement issued this morning: “Film and TV producers spent a record £45.2 million shooting on location in Scotland in 2014, Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop revealed today.

“The record high total – an increase of almost £12 million compared with 2013 – demonstrates a fast growing appetite from major film and high-end TV makers to use Scotland as a backdrop for their productions.

“It follows Creative Scotland’s work to support large productions to film in Scotland in recent years, including the much-anticipated Sunset Song and Macbeth, The Legend of Barney Thomson, Iona, Sunshine on Leith, Under the Skin and Outlander, and current productions including Tommy’s Honour and Moon Dogs.

“Ms Hyslop announced the record production spend total today ahead of a set visit to Bannan, the first Gaelic drama series to be commissioned for BBC ALBA and currently filming in Skye.”

Read more, here.

The story is picked up by, among others, The Scotsman (here).

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A MUST-read, especially for those with an interest in the BBC… Gerry Hassan’s Essay of the Week in the Sunday Herald, previewing a session about the future of the media in Scotland, which took place yesterday evening at a ‘festival of ideas’ (noted here, on allmediascotland), of which Hassan is a co-director.

Read his essay, here.

And Saturday’s Scotsman carried a piece by Lynne Anderson – deputy chief executive of the News Media Association – headed, in the print edition of the paper, Why the BBC needs to have its wings clipped.

Read it, here.

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THE latest development, in a long-running investigation by the Sunday Herald’s Paul Hutcheon, begins: “A Holyrood committee has written to the UK surveillance watchdog as a first step towards launching a probe into Police Scotland unlawfully spying on journalists’ sources.

“MSPs wrote to the Interception of Communications Commissioner (IOCCO) last week as part of an initial scoping exercise that could see witnesses called to the [Scottish] Parliament.”

Read more, here.

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