Demo against BBC Scotland cuts set to be staged at Holyrood

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1987

By a Newsnet reporter
 
A demonstration against proposed cutbacks at BBC Scotland is scheduled to take place tomorrow [Thursday] outside the Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh.
 
The protest will commence at midday and will comprise supporters from a number of groups campaigning against the proposed BBC Scotland cuts and scheduling changes.

There has been anger at plans to replace Newsweek Scotland, hosted by Derek Bateman, by an extra Good Morning Scotland show on a Saturday.  The Janice Forsyth Radio Show will also be axed, to be replaced with more sport and chat output.

The ‘Save Newsweek Scotland’ and ‘Save Janice Forsyth Show’ campaigns have attracted growing public support.  The campaigns have also received backing from figures within Scottish culture, media and politics both at home and abroad.

A campaign delegation will submit a letter to Joan McAlpine MSP for the Education & Culture Committee to consider.  Ms McAlpine and a number of other MSPs will attend a photo opportunity with the campaigners shortly after 2pm.

The protests are set against a backdrop of BBC Scotland job losses with 30 journalist and production team jobs set to go in the Radio Scotland operation.  Critics have claimed that the departmental cuts are disproportionate.

The demo will also coincide with a scheduled visit by BBC Trust Chairman Lord Patten who will be meeting with representatives of the Scottish Government to discuss the BBC.  It is understood that Scottish Ministers are set to confront the former Tory Minister with a list of concerns they say call into question the impartiality of some BBC reporters.

Lord Patten has already announced a review of proposed cuts across the BBC radio service in England.  However there is no indication this review will look into the changes affecting radio output from Scotland and other parts of the UK.

The campaigns come as a series of complaints against BBC Scotland threatens to undermine the broadcaster’s reputation for impartial news coverage.  Angry licence payers bombarded the corporation with complaints after Scottish online blogs were singled out and closed to public comment.

This weekend First Minister Alex Salmond accused the BBC of behaving like a “tin-pot dictatorship” after he was prevented from appearing on a light hearted rugby show hours before the international match between Scotland and England.

On the same day the ban was invoked a BBC Scotland Radio programme heard commentators suggest that the SNP had scheduled the independence referendum to coincide with the year of the Commonwealth Games in order to gain political advantage.

Two weeks ago John Boothman, who has links to the Labour party and is now head of Current Affairs and News at BBC Scotland, was quizzed by the Education and Culture Committee at Holyrood.

Mr Boothman’s inability to provide satisfactory answers to key questions led to criticisms from members of the committee who have now invited Boothman’s boss, Ken McQuarrie, Director of BBC Scotland, to appear.

Resources:

An open Letter to the BBC
http://lenathehyena.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/looking-into-the-abyss-the-bbc-and-newsweek-scotland/

Save Janice Forsyth Show Campaign
http://www.change.org/petitions/bbc-scotland-keep-the-janice-forsyth-show-on-bbc-radio-scotland

Save Newsweek Scotland Campaign
https://www.facebook.com/savenewsweekscotland https://twitter.com/#!/savenewsweeksco

Scottish Parliament: Education & Culture Committee held on 24th of January
http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/newsandmediacentre/41370.aspx