Unions voice quality fears as 70 jobs go at BBC Scotland

BBC Scotland has announced plans to make 70 staff redundant, about six per cent of its 1,200-strong workforce.

The broadcaster told staff this week that it was seeking voluntary redundancies, including 20 in the news and current affairs department.

According to the National Union of Journalists, factual programming and sport are also likely to face job cuts.

The news comes after the BBC announced in October that it was moving the production of more programmes out of London, with Question Time and Newsnight Review due to move to from Glasgow from 2010.

NUJ father of chapel Stephen Low has written to BBC Scotland controller Ken MacQuarrie expressing concern about how the quality of programmes will be maintained with fewer journalists.

‘We are very desirous to hear, directly from you, about how quality is to be maintained by a smaller workforce – many of whom are already under considerable pressure and stress,’Low wrote.

NUJ Scottish organiser Paul Holleran said the union had conducted a survey earlier this year which found stress levels at BBC Scotland were ‘at unacceptable levels’as a result of budget cuts.

The cutbacks at BBC Scotland are part of a broader range of cost savings implemented by the corporation following a lower-than-expected licence fee settlement.

The ‘Creative Future’review proposed 2,500 job cuts over six years – about 230 of which would come in Scotland.

Bectu Scottish organiser Paul McManus said the cuts would have a ‘hugely detrimental impact’on BBC Scotland.

‘On the one hand staff in Scotland are being assured that more network programmes will be made in Scotland – yet now we are told that a lack of network programmes next year means that BBC Scotland can afford to lose over half of its programme producers, assistant producers and researchers,’he said.

‘If these proposals are not rethought, then Scotland will not have the staff to create, pitch for or produce these mythical new programmes.

‘The BBC is well aware that the joint unions will vigorously oppose any plans for compulsory redundancies in Scotland.’

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