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‘No job losses’ as BBC announces Scottish news shake up

BBC Scotland has announced changes to its news and current affairs services in preparation for a busy year of major news events, including the UK general election and the summer’s Euros.

The broadcaster has emphasised that the changes will not require any job losses, although they will require an amendment to its operating licence, which currently requires BBC Scotland to show 250 hours per annum of news, and therefore will be subject to consultation by and approval from Ofcom

The BBC said the changes are “designed to grow the impact of broadcast news services in Scotland whilst offering audiences more ways to watch and listen to news and current affairs output across all our services.”

The plans will see a reshaped news service for the BBC Scotland Channel, an extension of Reporting Scotland, a new current affairs series available on BBC Sounds and BBC iPlayer as well as TV, and investment in online news services.

Key changes include:

  • Launching a new 30-minute news programme at 7pm on the BBC Scotland Channel. This will replace The Nine. The new programme, following Reporting Scotland at 6.30pm on BBC One Scotland, will have coverage from across Scotland, the UK and the world. This change will be subject to consultation by and approval of Ofcom*
  • Launching a new topical current affairs series which will be published as a podcast on BBC Sounds and also be available to audiences on BBC iPlayer, BBC Scotland channel and BBC One Scotland. We’re planning to run this four times a week in this election year.
  • Regularly extending Reporting Scotland on BBC One for a number of hour-long special editions across the year
  • Extending the series run of Debate Night this year, increasing from 24 episodes to 30 episodes
  • Increasing the frequency of ‘live’ online reporting and explanatory articles on the News website and News App, as part of an overall strategy to strengthen the online news offer

The new 30-minute TV news programme, which is subject to regulatory approval, and the new topical current affairs series will launch later this year. These plans also involve bringing The Edit (an entertainment news programme) and Seven Days (a weekly news review programme) on the BBC Scotland Channel to a close.

These changes will “maintain our investment in news and there will be no staff job losses associated with the plans.’BBC Scotland News will maintain the six and a half hours of weekday radio news programmes, bolstered by Martin Geissler joining the Drivetime presentation team; build on the success of The Sunday Show, setting the week’s political agenda when it’s simulcast each weekend on BBC One and Radio Scotland, and invest in the work of the award-winning Disclosure investigations team, who have recently dug into how the post office scandal has impacted Scotland, shone a light on the state of prisons, and exposed shocking weight loss scams.

Gary Smith, head of news & current affairs said: “It’s going to be a busy year for news with a UK election, an American election, and Scotland’s trip to Germany for the Euros. We need to make sure we keep changing our output as audience habits change, so that we provide the best possible service for our audiences in the formats and on the platforms they want. I’m very proud that The Nine has produced such great journalism and developed such great talent over the past five years, and I’m confident that our new offer to audiences will continue to meet those high standards.”

Steve Carson, director BBC Scotland, added: “In launching new shows and developing our digital services, these changes play to our strengths as an innovative broadcaster that delivers high quality journalism to audiences across all our platforms – from TV and Radio to online news, iPlayer and Sounds.”

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