The ability of the BBC to deliver quality programming to cover major events in Scotland is a serious concern according to a report published today (9 May) by the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Culture Committee.
The report, a result of a series of evidence sessions with senior BBC executives and union officials, examines whether BBC Scotland is sufficiently prepared to deliver high quality coverage of forthcoming major events in the wake of staffing cuts.
Committee Convener Stewart Maxwell MSP said:
“The next few years in Scotland will be of the utmost importance in our country’s history. It was therefore timely that our Committee carefully examined the state broadcaster’s capacity to cover major events such as the referendum and the Commonwealth Games.
“Our Committee heard conflicting evidence from both sides of the debate about the impact that staffing cuts are having on the organisation. It is of major concern that there does not seem to be a consensus about the scale and impact of these cuts and we remain far from reassured on the BBC’s ability to deliver in-depth coverage at a quality we would expect.
“The Committee noted that the BBC did not answer the question on the scale of Radio Scotland’s budget cuts as shown in the Corporation’s accounts. It was unhelpful of them to use the BBC Trust Radio Review figures and then exclude costs required to make programmes such as royalties and support staff, had those costs been included the scale of the reduction in budget at 19.3% far exceeds the level of cuts required of them by the BBC centrally.”
Such is the concern that staffing cuts may impede the broadcaster’s ability to deliver, that the Committee will be seeking regular updates from BBC Scotland every six months. The first of these updates is expected in October 2013.
Since January 2012, the Committee has been examining the capacity of BBC Scotland to deliver coverage of major events. During this time, the Committee heard from broadcasting union members as well as the then Director-General of the BBC Mark Thompson. Initially declining an invitation to appear before the Committee in late 2012, senior BBC officials appeared before the Committee in January 2013 following an intervention by the BBC Chairman Lord Patten.
More details of the Committee’s consideration of the broadcasting can be found via the following link: