Gaelic speaking freelances to be hit by BBC cuts

Journalists working on the BBC’s Gaelic news are facing cuts to the editorial budget, as the department slashes spending in the run-up to the end of the financial year.

The morning news show on the Radio nan Gaidheal station, seen by many as the Gaelic equivalent of Radio 4’s Today programme, has cut its average freelance budget per show from £250 to £150. The freelance budget for the afternoon news has also been cut from £140 to £65 per show.

The move means freelances will be used less on the programme than before.

NUJ Scottish organiser Paul Holleran described the cuts as savage and would put additional pressure on staff that would inevitably become “a real risk to the quality” of the Gaelic service.

“Undermining the livelihood of freelance reporters will further affect Gaelic news programmes as there is a limited number of Gaelic speaking journalists the producers can turn to as spokespeople,” he said.

“These cutbacks were announced without any consultation with those affected, quoting budget overspends as the main reason. Staff and freelance journalists have for some time expressed concern about the adequacy of budgets to Gaelic news programmes,” he added.

A BBC spokesman insisted the cuts were as a result of “previous overspending” by the department and part of an efficiency drive “to bring it into line with other departments”.

By Wale Azeez

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