Inverness business body calls for meeting with BBC over proposed job cuts

PROPOSED cuts at BBC Scotland in Inverness has prompted the local Chamber of Commerce to call for a meeting with BBC Scotland Director, Ken MacQuarrie.

Two weeks ago, it was announced that 35 posts at BBC Scotland have been earmarked for redundancy, 17 of them in news and current affairs, as part of budget cuts reflecting a six-year freeze in the price of the TV licence fee, agreed between the BBC and the Westminster Government two years ago.

Two out of four (English language) senior broadcast posts in Inverness have been identified as part of the plan.

The Inverness Chamber of Commerce represents over 350 businesses in Inverness and the surrounding area.

In a media statement, Stewart Nicol, chief executive, is quoted, as saying: “We believe these cuts will compromise the delivery of news across all platforms in the Highlands. The BBC reports on vital issues and developments across this region, which is comparable to Belgium in size, and we believe the organisation’s ability to continue doing this is now at risk.

“Of course, we understand the BBC has to make cost savings but many people already feel that the Highland lacks its fair share of voice when compared to other regions of Scotland, particularly those in the Central Belt. If these cuts go through, important issues, developments and opportunities taking place in the Highlands may be missed by those living elsewhere in Scotland, the UK and internationally.

“People in this region pay their license fee and are entitled to a fair service from the BBC. This is just another example of disproportionate cuts for rural Scotland.”

A BBC Scotland spokesperson said: “The BBC’s commitment to news-gathering in the Highlands and Islands is at the most it has ever been, with a total news-gathering staff of 29, between English language and Gaelic. We are committed to maintaining the comprehensive service that we already provide.”