Radio Scotland cutback claims clarified by BBC

CLAIMS that BBC Radio Scotland is to lose a third of its production staff have been clarified by the Corporation.

In a letter going to The Herald – which reports today that 11 out of 27 staff (eight in Glasgow, three in Edinburgh) are to lose their jobs in the coming year – BBC Scotland’s Ian Small, head of policy and corporate affairs, has pointed out that the 11 out of 27 refers to radio news staff alone, which is an element of the BBC Radio Scotland’s radio production total.

Proposed changes to BBC Radio Scotland’s news output includes replacing Newsweek on Saturday morning with a Saturday version of Good Morning Scotland. Scotland at Ten is also set to go.

News staff cover the likes of Good Morning Scotland and a lunchtime news programme hosted by John Beattie. But the estimated 147 radio production staff include not just news but music, phone-ins, football and the Fred MacAulay Show also.

Today’s Herald story followed job cut details being yesterday shared with staff. A tweet from the journalist who penned the story has sought to clarify it is news production staff, not total production staff, at BBC Radio Scotland.

Says the letter: “The 11 post reductions in News, which we discussed with the BBC unions yesterday, are part of a package of cuts required of the BBC as a result of the current Licence Fee settlement. That settlement will require a £16million reduction in BBC Scotland’s annual budget by 2017 and a reduction of between 100 and 120 posts. In News, in total, 30 posts will be lost, over the next five years, from a workforce, in that area, of around 240.

“Details of all of these changes were made public last October.

“You note that, as part of these proposals, the Radio Scotland news programmes Newsweek and Scotland At Ten will go. What is not noted, however, is that in total there will be no reduction in news and current affairs output on radio. Nor will there be impact on quality.

“The current one hour, Newsweek, will be replaced by a two-hour news programme. Instead of Scotland at Ten, we will have more regular daily politics slots within our daily radio news output, where the audiences are higher, and there will be an extra one-hour news and current affairs programme on Saturdays.

“The Licence Fee freeze will inevitably impact on BBC Scotland’s budget. However, we will endeavour to minimise its effect by seeking, where appropriate, voluntary redundancies and redeployment and by ensuring that audience needs at all times take precedence.”

The Herald’s claims had Scottish Government Culture Minister, Fiona Hyslop, being quoted, expressing “deep concerns”. A ‘BBC Insider’ was also quoted, expressing anger, while an outgoing National Union of Journalists’ Father of Chapel is also quoted.