Pace of press reform ‘may be break-neck’, predicts McLellan

THE pace of press reform may about to take place at break-neck speed, according to the editor of The Scotsman.

Writes John McLellan, in his weekly Editor’s Notebook, today: “There is a determination that a new system be in place by spring and presumably that means by Easter, the beginning of April. The first of those big changes may be announced this week and after that the pace of reform may well be break-neck.”

McLellan too writes of the BBC’s reporting of Scottish news, in the wake of an article last week in his newspaper by Jeremy Peat, the former Scottish rep on the BBC’s governing body.

Writes McLellan: “.. As more political decision-making is devolved – even under the limited proposals of the Scotland Bill – continuing with the main bulletins from both the BBC in London and ITN makes less sense by the day.”

But he accepts cash is an issue: “It is, as Mr Peat acknowledged, a question of resources and despite the feather bed of the £145.50 licence fee, cash is tight at [BBC Scotland HQ] Pacific Quay. No wonder former head of news and current affairs, Atholl Duncan, left to join the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland.

“Even with technological advances, a new Scottish news programme for an hour at 6pm and again for over 30 minutes at 10pm can’t be done without increasing costs and something will have to give if Mr Peat’s ambition [for more Scottish news on BBC bulletins] is to be realised.”