News budget at BBC Scotland to be boosted

BBC Scotland’s television and radio news operation is to receive a budget boost, following a decision by its governing body, the BBC Trust.

Following the dropping of plans earlier this year to provide local video news services throughout the UK, the BBC Trust has instead decided to direct additional funding to TV and radio news around the ‘nations and regions’.

Across the UK, the increased funding amounts to £8.5 million in 2009/10, peaking at £15.3 million in 2012/13.

The plans were welcomed by the Scottish Organiser of the National Union of Journalists.

Said Paul Holleran: “This last year has been nothing but doom gloom and disaster for our industry so it is quite a lift to get the first good news for some time. The expansion of radio, TV and web-based news and current affairs, as well as a number of new programmes in the pipeline, is like a breath of fresh air.

“The announcement of increased political and business reporting can only be good for our democracy. We will now look forward to discussing with BBC Scotland management the details of the opportunities this will throw up for our members.”

Among the improvements, there will be an enhancement of the news opt-outs on BBC Radio Scotland, covering south-west Scotland, Borders, Grampian, Highlands and Islands, Orkney and Shetland.

As well as news, there will be also increased investment in factual programming.

The plans were announced on Friday.

Said Diane Coyle, BBC trustee and chair of the Trust’s Strategic Approvals Committee: “Licence Fee payers have told us that they want the BBC to improve services for audiences in the nations, regions and communities of the UK.

“After very careful consideration, the Trust is satisfied that the revised plans meet this challenge with minimal impact on commercial providers. We will monitor output closely to ensure this is the case.

“Existing local television and radio services will be enhanced by initiatives such as substantial improvements to news coverage, and additional funding for local factual programming in the devolved nations.

“The Trust believes that this will allow the BBC to meet its public purposes and help close the gap between the importance that audiences attach to the BBC’s local role and their view of its current performance.”