Wednesday, June 22, 2016


The BBC seems to be in a slow bicycle race to delivering some form of Scottish Six.

New boss of News and Current Affairs Gary Smith, seven months into the job, is steering a cautious path, bravely briefing staff that he needs to make savings, when most Scottish politicians are baying for the BBC to spend more in the Land of the Brave talking about the Brave (and themselves).

They'll be annoyed at a planned closure of Scotland 2016 at 10pm weeknights on BBC2 Scotland (probably before it needs to do new graphics for 2017). I suspect Gary may be forced to reveal the viewing figures - the Scotsman seems to have been briefed that they're down to 35,000 a night, from a 2014 launch figure closer to 90,000. In radio, the loss of a weekend half-hour business programme, and a Friday outside broadcast debate with Gordon Brewer, probably won't be mourned.

Gary just about avoided saying that the 6.30pm tv flagship Reporting Scotland was too fluffy - "I’m keen to make it newsier and more analytical, with fewer soft features, and more rigour round the news value of the stories in the sports belt." And, in the puzzling world of tv news economics, he plans to save money by producing fewer 'picture' stories and introducing more analysis, graphics and live interviews. This is a tacit admission that there's a way to go before Pacific Quay is tooled up editorially and technically to even contemplate taking on a full hour at six. Gary's risk, of course, is that the audience may actually like fluff, and Reporting Scotland is currently the "most-watched" news programme north of the border.

His team at Scotland will get to hone their pan-UK and international news judgements organising the main Scotland page on the website, which is already sharper - though they will lose the 'live' page, a device which the rest of the BBC seems to think works.

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