Duncan Stepping Down as BBC Scotland Head of News

The head of news and current affairs at BBC Scotland is to step down after the Scottish Parliament elections, to take on a new job.

Atholl Duncan is to take up the role of Executive Director (UK and Global) for ICAS – the professional body for accountants.

He has been in charge of the BBC's Scottish news operation for five years.

He first joined the Corporation in 1984 and worked in a variety of senior news roles before leaving to join Scottish Water as director of corporate affairs. He returned to the BBC to take up the head of news position.

Says a BBC statement: “In the past four years, he has helped deliver some of the highest audiences for Reporting Scotland in the last decade and driven up audiences for online news from 800,000 to 2.3 million. He also oversaw a period of increased audience satisfaction and reach for BBC News in Scotland and was instrumental in creating an award-winning investigations’ unit.

The statement quotes BBC Scotland Director, Ken MacQuarrie, saying: “Atholl has played a key role in delivering high quality journalism for our audiences, however they choose to consume it. Under his stewardship, our news team has won a string of awards and we wish him well in his new role.”

Duncan himself is also quoted, saying: “It has been a pleasure and a privilege to lead the BBC's journalism in Scotland. This has been a period during which the news team has delivered significant improvements in our coverage. Audience figures have increased and audience satisfaction has improved. Our ambition is to deliver the best journalism in the world. Over the past four and half years we have taken significant steps towards that ambitious goal.”

In a memo to colleagues, he says the news team have:

“* Delivered some of the highest audiences for Reporting Scotland in the last decade – against a declining market trend.

* Driven up audiences for our online news from 800,000 to 2.3 million.

* Driven up audience satisfaction with BBC News in Scotland from around 50 per cent to more than 70 per cent.

* Increased the reach of BBC news from 75 per cent to more than 80 per cent, adding around quarter of a million to our audiences.

* Created an investigations’ unit which delivers important and impactful journalism for Scottish and network audiences.

* Introduced new talent across the output.

* Improved our network news service to the extent that it is now regarded as one of the best teams in the BBC.

* Raised the ambition of the whole endeavour, winning Panorama commissions and Glenn [Campbell]’s Royal Television Society Journalism Award for 'Scoop of the Year'.

* And we are doing all this for around 25 per cent less than it cost to run the news and current affairs department five years ago.”

Following Duncan's departure, John Boothman will become acting head of news and current affairs until the role is filled on a permanent basis.