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Revamp for news programmes

BBC scraps analysis show as audience slides

BBC ScotlandBBC Scotland is scrapping its nightly television current affairs programme, Scotland 2016 after admitting it has failed to attract a big enough audience.

Two radio programmes, the Big Debate and Business Scotland, are also being axed in favour of beefing up its flagship Reporting Scotland news programme.

BBC executives are said to be planning an hour-long show which will dispense with most of the fluffy items and replace them with more serious analysis from its specialist reporters.

Scotland 2016 has been on air for three years, launched originally as Scotland 2014 to follow the independence campaign.

It has been unable to compete with STV’s livelier Scotland Tonight, although both focus broadly on Scottish politics.

Scotland 2016 has seen viewing figures slump to 30,000, a third of the peak. It will stay on air until later in the year when it will follow Newsnight Scotland into the final editing suite.

It is understood that London-produced Newsnight will return to Scotland in full for the first time since 1999 when the programme was truncated in order to introduce a 20-minute opt-out of Scottish analysis. The handover was often clunky, giving rise to Newsnight anchor Jeremy Paxman’s description of it as a “dog’s breakfast”.

The new arrangements have been welcomed as an attempt to put serious journalism and polished presentation at the centre of the programmes, though staff will want assurances that it does not mean squeezing more out of fewer resources.

Gary Smith, head of news and current affairs, told staff on Tuesday they had to work to a tighter budget and to new digital methods of working.

In a note circulated to staff, he said: “We’ve become overstretched, with reductions in staffing over past years, but not in output. It’s time now to live within our means, and focus on our core programmes.”

 

 

 



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