Delivering Quality First: What it Might Mean for BBC Scotland

Budget cuts that will see an estimated 2,000 jobs going at the BBC over the next five years, some 100-120 specifically at BBC Scotland – as reported earlier today on allmediascotland – involved a detailed presentation to staff at BBC Scotland headquarters in Glasgow this morning.

The headline proposals, up for consultation until just before Christmas and as outlined by BBC Scotland Director, Ken MacQuarrie, are as follows:

* A 16 per cent budget cut over the next five years, circa £16.1 million per year from £102 million;

* Six per cent of the proposed budget cuts to come from content;

* Ten per cent of the proposed budget cuts to come from efficiecy savings, including between 20 and 25 per cent savings (translated to around 30 posts) in so-called Operations and Support, such as the media department and human resources; 

* Thirty posts to go in a “simplified” TV and radio news and current affairs department; 

* The introduction of a 'single news rota' where staff are “truly integrated” across all radio programmes and bulletins, with a single editor responsible for radio news and current affairs and increased efforts to work more collaboratively with Gaelic News;

* Politics coverage on TV during the week and on Sundays to remain in place but with possible savings to be made in coverage of political party conferences;

* No plans to extend local news coverage on radio, plus a review of regional radio news opt-outs;

* Possible loss of between 15 and 20 jobs in radio, with hope that “other factors” – such as the outcome of future sports rights negotiations – may result in fewer;

* Possible greater sharing of radio content across the BBC;

* Possibly more radio co-productions;

* A ten-to-20 per cent reduction in radio comedy, drama and documentaries;

* Reduced variety of programmes on BBC Radio Scotland in the afternoon, “while maintaining the commitment to cover the arts and culture of Scotland in longer-form programmes”;

* Fewer differences in programming between radio's Medium Wave and the FM schedules;

* Possible phasing out of BBC Radio Scotland transmission at midnight, with the hours of 00.00-05.30 to be covered by BBC Radio 5 live;

* On back of 24 per cent savings already in the New Media, Online and Learning departments these last 18 months, a further ten per cent saving over the period 2013/14 to 2016/17 from its local funding, including news and sport, with the potential loss of around three-to-five posts;

* Possible loss of five-to-eight posts in the BBC's Gaelic department, but says MacQuarrie, “the economy of the Gaelic department is a complex one in that its non-news television output is broadly equally funded by the BBC and by external [Scottish Government] funding from MG ALBA, the partner in the BBC ALBA service”;

* Potential loss of non-news live programming on Radio nan Gaidheal;

* No plans to scrap River City;

* Aim to have £10 million worth of programmes per year, made initially for audiences in Scotland, Wales or Nothern Ireland only to then be shown UK-wide;

* BBC One Scotland to be broadcast in high definition (involving an investment of £2 million);

* BBC Two Scotland to remain 'standard definition' for at least four years;

* Expectation that a target 8.6 per cent (by spend) of UK-wide network programmes to be made by BBC Scotland will be reached ahead of scheduled 2016 (it was 3.3 per cent four years ago);

* The Head of Arts production for the whole of the UK to be be based in Scotland;

* Continued building of drama output for network transmission, and comedy too; 

* BBC Scotland to continue to be the 'second centre' for Childrens Programming in the UK;

* Building on already existing entertainment and daytime plans that have seen in-house network programmes such as Weakest Link and Tonight's the Night locate to BBC Scotland, along with independently-produced shows such as Ask Rhod Gilbert, Frank Skinner's Opinionated and Alan Tyler’s new Kevin Bridges commission, What’s the Story;

* Around 35 posts over five years to go in 'craft and production';

* Continued efforts to make sure BBC Scotland is “getting maximum utilisation of property and studio facilities”;

* Continued savings “through leaner, flatter management structures”, building on already achieved savings in senior management posts.

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