BBC still healthy
Stephen Jardine’s scattergun attack on BBC Scotland (Perspective, 14 November) unfortunately lacks two critical factors – factual accuracy and insight.
He states that director Ken MacQuarrie has refused to appear before the Education and Culture Committee. He did just that, along with then director general Mark Thompson just a few months ago, in May, following a previous appearance before the Scotland Bill committee in October last year.
On both occasions he explained, in significant detail, BBC Scotland’s approach to dealing with the freeze on licence fee and the required reductions in budgets.
Head of news John Boothman has also appeared before the committee, in January, and we have written to all MSPs and submitted two papers to the committee on the issue.
Since we first outlined them last year, the numbers affected by the necessary budget reductions remain at up to 120 post closures over five years, the majority of which come from outside journalism.
His criticism of our output also does a huge disservice to the people who work in BBC Scotland – an institution anything but, as he claims, “moribund”, “crippled by self-doubt” or where “every spark of creativity is extinguished”.
It is clear Stephen has scant knowledge of, or understanding of, our business. The evidence which confounds his arguments is clear to see: Operation Iceberg, Prehistoric Autopsy, The Harbour, The Scot Who Shot the American Civil War and Seeking Someone Special in recent weeks with Addicted to Pleasure, Shetland, Bob Servant and Field of Blood 2 in the coming months. Not really proof of a broadcaster in crisis – and that’s just on television.
Over on Radio Scotland, around a million listeners tune in every week to one of the most wide-ranging speech schedules you’ll find on one station.
It’s also clear that the industry recognises our achievements to date. We have received 17 Bafta Scotland nominations this year for our output and last week we collected three of a total of eight UK-wide Grierson awards for our factual documentary output.
Finally, it’s important to note that the BBC is well aware of two of the most important landmarks on the 2014 calendar – the Commonwealth Games and the referendum.
These are huge stories for the whole of the UK and readers can be assured that they will both receive the fullest attention they deserve. Plans for these will be announced in due course.
Head of public policy and corporate affairs
Please let us have more quality journalism like the 14 November articles by Stephen Jardine (“Auntie’s crisis hurts us all”), Robin McAlpine (“I have seen the future – and it’s not that clear”) and Professor Keith Brown (“Scots’ respect for the vote stretches way back”).
I endorse Mr Jardine’s demand for Lesley Riddoch to appear more often on BBC airwaves. After all, in BBC Radio Scotland’s past, she managed to fill a midday phone-in programme with intellectual stimulation. And some of us are old enough to remember such excellent journalists as Neville Garden and Colin Bell.
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