Fifteen ‘streams’ from 17 locations: BBC Scotland’s MacQuarrie unveils plans for next year’s Commonwealth Games

BBC SCOTLAND’S coverage of next year’s Commonwealth Games, in Glasgow, is to include 15 separate steams from 17 locations, reflecting the several ‘red button’ options, HD channels and online output by the BBC from last year’s Olympic Games in London.

This evening, BBC Scotland Director, Ken MacQuarrie, said:  “In many ways, the [Olympic] Games came of age in a digital world, defined to large extent by the BBC’s approach to coverage. We will adopt a similar approach to the Commonwealth Games, during which 15 separate streams will be beamed from 17 locations around Scotland.

“In this endeavour, we will work closely with colleagues in Salford and London and with BBC teams and other broadcasters across the Commonwealth to ensure that the programming of, and around, the Games will be second to none.”

MacQuarrie was delivering the Campbell Swinton Lecture in Glasgow, organised by the Royal Television Society (Scotland).

He also said of 2014: “It is the year in which we will commemorate the outbreak of the Great War, we will cover the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and, of course, we will report on every twist and turn of the debate surrounding the independence referendum.”

He continued: “Broadcasting will feature as a topic for debate within the discussions which will take place between now and September 2014: for the BBC to take – or to be seen to take – any kind of stance on a constitutional issue would potentially damage our reputation for impartial and unbiased reporting, particularly given the fact that the referendum and the issues it will involve will be comprehensively covered covered across out output.”

He also highlighted how the BBC can help audiences to maximise the benefits of digital access.

Recent research by the Carnegie Trust, he said, revealed the existence of a worrying ‘digital divide’, particularly in Glasgow where internet access among skilled manual workers is 47 per cent while the UK average of 72 per cent; and 40 per cent of householders interviewed were not online in their homes and of those nearly half have no wish to so in future.

He went on: “For those of us for whom universality of access is an important principle, who aspire to helping audiences to derive the greatest benefit from engagement with emerging media, these are worrying statistics.

“Connectedness, inevitably, is about people, much more than it is about technology and clearly there is a sizeable minority, and no more so than in this city, who have yet to accept the economic and social benefits that digital interconnectedness can bring.

“I think it is fair to say that open and unfettered access to the digital space can unlock many riches – but only if you know how to navigate that space.

“And that, for me, points to two important roles the BBC must play going forward – that of curator, helping to organise and make available the fantastic content that lies deep within its archive; and that of navigator, helping audiences steer their ways through the terabytes of information to find what they need and what is of particular value to them.

“And allied closely to both is yet another role for the BBC – that of partner – working alongside, and connected to a diverse range of organisations in order to maximise the value delivered to audiences.”

Pic: MacQuarrie, left, with Henry Eagles, RTS Scotland, looking on. Taken by David Barz.