Monday, October 15, 2007

BBC Scotland: the axeman cometh?

There's a report on the mediaguardian website speculating that BBC Scotland could be among the services to bear the brunt of swingeing budget cuts. [You'll need to be registered to read it, but registration is free and well worth the effort.] The article suggests BBC websites, TV news programme editors and BBC Scotland are the areas most likely to suffer as a consequence of the corporation getting a smaller than expected licence fee settlement from the Government.

The BBC is facing a £2 billion funding gap and director general Mark Thompson is due on Wednesday to present his plan for overcoming that to the corporation's leadership, the BBC Trust. According to mediaguardian, both BBC Scotland and BBC Wales could be hit by the cuts. This seems ironic, since the corporation is making an effort to devolve more programme-making to its nations and regions department. But the article also suggests the cuts to Scotland and Wales are not sitting well with some inside the BBC Trust, and could be water down.

I guess everyone at BBC Scotland should be grateful they've already moved into their new headquarters at Pacific Quay in Glasgow, otherwise they'd have been stuck at Queen Margaret Drive for another ten or twenty years, the way things are going. But how many people will be left inside Pacific Quay if this reported round of cuts takes effect? You can be certain this will be grist to the mill for the new SNP minority government here in Scotland, and its claims the BBC is a London-centric organisation. Should make for an interesting row in the coming days.


AndrewT said...

They don't vene own Pacific Quay and apparently its very much designed as an office block, so if the Beeb move out it can be reused as an office building, hence the few minor sound slip ups during their opening night when the party was heard during the news!

John Freeman said...

Broadcast is reporting that MPs are urging BBC director general Mark Thompson to halt plans to axe thousands of jobs and to consult staff instead on the future priorities for the corporation. Also up for consideration is the sale of its West London headquarters, Television Centre, for a reported £300m, as it looks to plug the gap in its finances, although if that happens the sale won't be until 2013... hardly an immediate solution to financial woes.

Given past practice and the way local news and services are being cut over at ITV to save money, I'd say BBC Scotland, and I expect BBC Wales have good reason to worry about their future, despite the BBC's move of some departments out of the capital to Salford, which should save them money, you'd think.

We both know the BBC finds it difficult to consider ways to make money, even though the days of Reithian broadcasting for the public good are over -- and it is hamstrung from fully exploiting the commercial opportunities presented by its portfolio of programming to plug the funding gap.