Page last updated at 14:12 GMT, Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Education and Culture Committee

The head of news and current affairs at BBC Scotland told the Education and Culture Committee there would be "no loss of hours in our output and no drop in the quality of our output" as a result of proposed cuts, on 24 January 2012.

The cuts have been proposed as a result of the Delivering Quality First (DQF) initiative, which in turn emerged after the UK coalition government's licence fee freeze until 2017.

BBC Scotland news and current affairs faces losing 30 posts over the next five years with the loss of radio Scotland programmes Newsweek Scotland and Scotland at Ten as part of a £2.2m savings by April 2017.

John Boothman, head of news and current affairs at BBC Scotland, was responding to a question from the committee convener Stewart Maxwell during a wide ranging round table discussion on public service broadcasting.

SNP MSP Mr Maxwell said: "Many of us remain puzzled by how you can maintain or improve quality and output given the loss of these shows and the very severe cuts to staff particularly producers that have been announced."

Mr Boothman responded: "One of the things the BBC has been good at is training our journalists, multi-skilling our journalists, to make sure these things can happen and there can be no drop in quality and I'm convinced we can do that."

Journalist and former BBC employee Iain Macwhirter told the committee BBC Scotland news and current affairs programmes had been underfunded in comparison with programmes made in London.

Mr Macwhirter said he'd never found any justification for why programmes made in Scotland should be made with lower budgets.

Speaking on behalf of the NUJ, Scottish organiser Paul Holleran expressed serious concerns about the stress levels at the BBC saying there had been a "massive impact on the health and safety of our members" as a result of driving down staffing levels and job cuts.

Mr Boothman replied that the BBC had some of the best pay and conditions in the industry in Scotland, as well as some of the best records in health and safety and said if there were any concerns about these or other issues the BBC was always willing to address them.

Gordon MacMillan the head of news at STV highlighted the success of the new current affairs programme Scotland Tonight and said that STV provided the most locally-focussed television news service in the UK.

Stuart Cosgrove from Channel 4, told the committee all his channel's news programmes were outsourced to independent companies and stressed the importance of the Scottish production sector at a time of constitutional change.

Education Committee membership


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