BBC to cut Scottish news budget by 20%

LONDON - The BBC is aiming to cut its spending on news and current affairs programming in Scotland by 20% over the next five years, in order to put more money into its online services.

Scottish TV
Scottish TV

The move emerged as the Scottish Broadcasting Commission published its third interim report into the provision of broadcasting in Scotland.

The Commission said the BBC pointed to recent editorial successes on Newsnight Scotland and The Politics Show, and said its current strategy was to place increasing emphasis on single programmes with cross-platform resonance, rather than long-running current affairs series.

The BBC Trust has commissioned a review of the corporation's network news and regional factual coverage. The findings from Professor Anthony King are expected to be published this summer.

Meanwhile, SMG, owner of Scottish TV broadcaster STV, said it faces an imminent "funding gap", which it believes jeopardises its ability to continue to provide broadcast journalism in competition with the BBC. SMG is arguing for a form of guaranteed public funding for its news and current affairs services on the two STV licences.

In its most recent evidence to the Commission, SMG said it was in discussions with ITV about the possibility of supplying a dedicated news service for the Scottish parts of the Border franchise, although plans are at an early stage.

The Commission said that, over a five-year period from 2001, current affairs spending in Scotland was down by 45% and news by 27%, more than in other UK areas.

The Commission said the future of Scottish news in the Border Television area remains a "serious concern" and is currently under review by ITV and Ofcom.

The Commission's final report is due out in September.

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