The SNP’s Westminster spokesperson on broadcasting Pete Wishart MP said the announcement of 35 job losses at BBC Scotland is a ‘devastating blow’ for output in news and current affairs across Scotland.
The latest losses under the ‘Delivering Quality First’ initiative were announced in an email to staff from BBC Scotland Director Ken MacQuarrie. They include eight jobs in radio, two in the Gaelic department, 17 in news and current affairs, six in marketing and communications and two in new media. Output from BBC Highlands will be drastically affected, losing half its reporting staff at Inverness.
With the need for cutbacks deriving from Westminster decisions on BBC funding, Mr Wishart said these further losses were evidence of the need for broadcasting powers to be devolved to the Scottish Government to ensure plurality and choice in Scotland.
Mr Wishart said
“The news of these planned job losses at BBC Scotland will cause great stress and uncertainty to the staff affected and I hope even at this late stage can be reconsidered.
“This will have a massive impact on news and current affairs provision in Scotland, cutting output from professional journalists across Scotland.
“The need to make such devastating cuts has been driven by license fee decisions made by a Westminster government whose policy continues to short-change Scotland. The outdated broadcasting framework never kept up with the realities of devolution, but now it is falling even further behind the curve of the constitutional debate.
“It’s astonishing at this unprecedented time in Scotland’s history, with a referendum on independence catching the imagination of the world, that the capabilities of our national broadcaster are being diminished.
“Scottish television viewers deserve balanced, high quality and impartial journalism from right across the country but these losses are bound to limit the capabilities of BBC Scotland, especially beyond the central belt.
“This underlines why control of broadcasting should be devolved to the Scottish government and the Scottish Parliament. The Scottish Government is committed to maintaining high quality public service broadcasting in Scotland, but we have been short changed for too long by the current set-up.
“ The UK Government should act urgently to transfer powers over broadcasting to Edinburgh to ensure high quality, plural output which better reflects all Scottish social, cultural and political perspectives.”