BBC Scotland Rebuts McAlpine Claims

BBC Scotland has today responded to criticism from MSP Joan McAlpine about its coverage of news and current affairs.

The newly-elected SNP MSP, who is a former deputy editor of The Herald, had hit out at BBC Scotland on Tuesday in her weekly opinion column in The Scotsman.

In a letter published in the newspaper today, BBC Scotland spokesman, Ian Small, writes: ”MSP Joan McAlpine's assertion that BBC hours devoted to news and current affairs coverage in Scotland have been cut following devolution (Perspective, 24 May) is not supported by the facts.

“In the five years preceding devolution, BBC Scotland devoted an average, each year, of 346 hours to televised news and current affairs programming. In the ten years since, that annual average has risen to more than 500 hours, an average increase in news, current affairs and political programme output of nearly 45 per cent over the period.

“Programmes such as Newsnight Scotland, The Politics Show, First Minister's Questions and Scottish Questions were introduced to reflect devolution and the continued increase in the number of our news bulletins and online content has sought to reflect the growing appetite of Scottish audiences for authoritative news output and analysis.”

Small pointed out that, following the King Report – into how London-centric the BBC was, the number of news stories from Scotland appearing on network news and on the news channel has also grown significantly.

He added: “The same can be said of radio, where Scotland at Ten, Brian Taylor's Big Debate and recent additions such as Call Kaye and the John Beattie Show have all contributed to the political debate in Scotland, and have helped Radio Scotland reach more than one million listeners each week.”