BBC ‘Voice of the Highlands’, Iain MacDonald, facing redundancy

THE BBC’s ‘voice of the Highlands’, Iain MacDonald, is facing redundancy, as part of job cuts announced at BBC Scotland in August.

MacDonald, who has been with the Corporation for 34 years, confirmed to allmediascotland that he had learned of his fate by telephone on Thursday. He is one of four senior broadcast journalists in the Inverness office of the BBC, from which one was at risk of redundancy, after it was announced that 35 posts were going across Scotland, because of budget cuts.

Initially, it had been two senior broadcast journalists in Inverness at risk of redundancy.

All four had declined to engage in negotiations, hence the phone call. And MacDonald – who commands a considerable affection in the area and was, indeed, the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement award at the Highlands and Islands Media Awards earlier this year – is travelling to Glasgow next week to appeal.

The Herald splashes the story today, across page five. And the paper’s Highland correspondent, David Ross, quotes the Scottish Organiser of the NUJ, Paul Holleran, as saying: “I have handled some pretty difficult situations across the years, but this is something else. We have experienced broadcasters off with stress and others physically breaking down.”

BBC journalists are being balloted on industrial action.

Holleran is further quoted, as saying: “The whole attitude towards senior management has become one of disgust. I think they will almost certainly move to a vote of non-confidence.

“We have asked for a meeting to give the BBC a chance to explain how they think they are going to manage without the likes of Iain MacDonald and other senior staff. They obviously think it is going to be business as usual, but they are deluding themselves.”

The budget cuts follow an agreement two years ago – between the BBC and the Westminster government – to freeze the TV licence fee for two years. It’s impact, over five years, at BBC Scotland is estimated to be between 100-120 posts being axed, as an annual budget cut of 16 per cent is implemented.

Pictured: MacDonald (right) receiving the Barron (lifetime achievement) Trophy at the Highlands and Islands Media Awards, from Scottish Government cabinet secretary for rural affairs and the environment, Richard Lochhead. Pic: Ewen Weatherspoon.