Alex Salmond backs call for moratorium on BBC redundancies

By staff writers
22 Feb 2013

In the face of union protests against cuts, Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has backed the idea of a six-month moratorium on redundancies at the BBC.

Speaking during First Minister's Questions on 21 February 2013, Mr Salmond said that it was disappointing that jobs were being lost while Scotland was debating the referendum on independence.

He described the call for a moratorium on redundancies, proposed by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), as a "positive proposal".

He continued: "I see with dismay that no fewer than nine of a total of 30 compulsory redundancies across the BBC are to be in Scotland. That should tell us that there is huge disquiet among staff about not just their individual futures but the BBC's collective ability to serve Scotland.

"I will give a small example. I am not saying that this will be the most dramatic loss to the Scottish population, but I understand that Sunday Politics Scotland will not be broadcast next Sunday, because the Westminster Parliament is in recess. I accept that that might not be devastating news for the vast majority of the Scottish population, but it should raise an issue for reflection.

"Surely our public service broadcaster should have the capability to cover politics and current affairs in Scotland and surely it should not be not broadcasting a programme because the Westminster Parliament is in recess. That points to a lack of ability in BBC Scotland to produce a programme with its current resources, which will surely be made much more significantly challenging if the cuts go ahead."

As the Scottish population faces one of the most important debates in its history – the independence referendum – BBC Scotland has decided to cut its news team.

Paul Holleran, NUJ Scottish organiser, said: "This is one of the most important decisions to be made in this country for centuries and demands the fullest public scrutiny and impartial analysis.

"It needs skilled, experienced reporters asking searching questions on the economic, cultural and political implications of independence or about retaining the status quo. So what does the BBC do? It gets rid of specialist reporters and correspondents.

"This will result in a serious dumbing down of output. In the lead up to the referendum we need experts in education, business and politics – three areas where cuts are being made. We need skilled, experienced reporters asking searching questions on the economic, cultural and political implications of independence or retaining the status quo."

Last year the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) overwhelmingly supported a resolution calling on the Scottish government to set up an inquiry into the future of the media in Scotland, proposed by the NUJ.

* The future of the media in Scotland, Simon Barrow: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/16601

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