By Lynn Malone and Martin Kelly
New BBC supremo Tony Hall has backed trade union demands for more money for Scotland.  
At a meeting in Pacific Quay in Glasgow last Friday, Hall also told hundreds of staff that a bullying management culture isn't acceptable and said he will take steps to address the problem.

In a question and answer session the new Director General had to field a number of questions from at least four senior management figures before addressing the important issues demanded by journalists from the hard pressed newsroom.

The National Union of Journalists has been privately, and more recently publicly, calling on BBC Scotland Director Ken MacQuarrie to make a case for additional resources to cover the 2014 Commonwealth Games and more importantly the independence referendum.

Sources say the BBC Scotland chief has been trying to avoid the question, and earlier this year refused to attend a meeting of the Education and Culture Committee at Holyrood, only appearing after being instructed to attend by Chris Patten, chair of the BBC Trust.

Under questioning MacQuarrie appeared extremely reticent to make more than minimal demands for more resources.  His head of news and current affairs John Boothman was almost dismissive of the need to properly resource the independence referendum, which has been described as "a one-off event" and "just another election" by senior management, it’s been claimed.

With the recent job cuts across BBC Scotland's newsrooms journalists are speaking out about being under increasing pressure amid claims staffing levels are insufficient to meet the daily needs of filling rotas.  One senior manager has suggested it would be "business as usual" after the cuts, however a series of strikes and a work to rule by the unions has highlighted the growing disaffection between staff and management culminating in a recent vote of no confidence in local management.

News that Hall has effectively bowed to demands from unions will increase pressure on BBC Scotland management and follows an announcement by Holyrood’s Education and Culture Committee that they are to monitor output from Pacific Quay.

In a report, MSPs on the committee highlighted conflicting evidence from unions and BBC management as to whether the broadcaster could deliver the "comprehensive, authoritative" coverage which had been claimed.

The committee of MSPs will now monitor BBC Scotland output at six-monthly intervals.

Welcoming news that BBC Scotland is to be monitored, Mark Piggott who is one of the organisers of a rally calling for balanced broadcasting said he hoped it would lead to an improvement in referendum coverage.

Speaking to Newsnet Scotland, Mr Piggott said: "This is a welcome move by our MSPs.  Our campaign has been calling for an improvement in the quality of coverage from both STV and the BBC.

"One area that needs to be addressed quickly is balance and we hope now that the monitoring will force BBC Scotland management to ensure equal participation for both sides in all debates and discussions on the referendum."

Mr Piggott also expressed concern at what his campaign felt was an unwillingness of BBC Scotland to report news evenly, and added.

"BBC Scotland gave widespread news coverage to the Susan Calman online abuse story but completely ignored the racist comments from Labour blogger Ian Smart, who is a regular guest on the BBC’s own political programmes, one week later.

"It’s very worrying that the BBC appears to be showing favouritism to one side in the referendum debate."

A rally calling for a balanced all inclusive referendum debate from broadcasters is being held in Glasgow on Saturday May 18th.  The rally will assemble at Strathclyde University Student’s Union on John Street at 12 noon and will march to St Enoch Square.

Speakers already confirmed include head of the Scottish NUJ Paul Holleran, Lynda Williamson of Newsnet Scotland, former MSP Tommy Sheridan, Robin McAlpine of the Reid Foundation and John Paul Tonner of Labour for Independence.


# cjmasta 2013-05-10 00:48
The pressure must be kept on the BBC to provide what license fee payers in Scotland deserve. There seems to be an unwillingness to change the way things are run there for the better and one is left to imagine a management core which is there running a political agenda over this nation. No wonder morale is so low.
The lack of vision is there for all to witness on our screens and our radio`s.
They`re selective reporting has gone on for too long, the country deserves to know what is going on daily not what they think we should know.
The march on the 18th is the one to be at people, I think it will be the most important one yet and should continue to grow until most of Scotland is aware of such a movement. Bloody hell, most of Scotland wants to debate independence but what we`ve seen up until now has been shameful.
Be there or be square, your country needs you.
# red kite 2013-05-10 05:51
I saw the piece yesterday morning on BBC-S news. The presenter looked unusually serious and it came across quite terse. There was no mention of extra funding. She did say the Parliament were watching.
# springster 2013-05-10 06:09
The BBC in Scotland, when it comes to reporting Scottish politics and the referendum debate, is corrupt. The refusal to report the Ian Smart incident, despite it appearing on STV and most Scottish newspapers is clear evidence of an agenda at work.

I'll be there next Saturday and hope to bring along one other. I'd plead with everyone to get to Glasgow next Saturday.
# Mei 2013-05-10 07:52
Did you notice how Sally Magnusson over emphasised Impartial on last night's Reporting Scotland programme.
# skintybroko 2013-05-10 08:54
The additional funding is purely to up the better together stories. It won't be used to open up the comments on the political blog. It won't be used to give more balance ro the debate. The March will only make a difference if other news agencies start to report the issues and I don't see that happening any time soon. Still I will be lending my support.
# Shooie-B 2013-05-10 09:03
What we need is NNS informing as many foreign news agencies as possible about the march, I’m sure they would love to report on a bias BBC, I think that would really put the pressure on more than the march itself.

# balgayboy 2013-05-10 11:43
The promise of more money by aye right, BTW which is still less than the Scottish people are taxed to view, listen to the London establishment propaganda machine ..aka BBC Scotland.
More guff and B.S. by a Mr Hall (who he)? Definitely not to be trusted with previous promises..charter etc: The future for Scotland is without this BBC garbage.
# Ananurhing 2013-05-10 12:01
According to Ian Smart's brother Alan, John Boothman and Smart are best buddies, hence the absence of any BBC reporting on Smart's racist comments. Strangely enough Boothman's missus is none other than Susan Deacon. How many times do we see this? Slab, BBC Scotland, and other MSM hacks intertwined like a sack of snakes. They really do see themselves as the Scottish establishment. I wonder if Boothman has anything to do with the silencing of Izzy Fraser?
# maisiedotts 2013-05-10 13:09
Nepotism and "Scottish" Labour go way, way back, along with corruption and self seeking/enrichment at cost to the public purse like Darling's house flipping. Another case of Westminster "Scottish" Labour MPs lining their own pockets highlighted today in Herald
# pomatiaH1 2013-05-10 15:22
I saw some figures from September last year , that there were 125,000 viewers of Newsnight Scotland.
I suspect quite a big proportion of that was us; looking to see what was or wasn't being reported!
# From The Suburbs 2013-05-10 15:49
If its any consolation STV's Scotland To-night is watched by more than twice as many viewers than Newsnight Scotland.
# cuckooshoe 2013-05-10 16:19
Considering parts of the Borders cannot receive STV, the Scotland Tonight viewing figures are very impressive..
# Roll_On_2011 2013-05-10 16:05
OT Lifted from BBC Ceefax

“ Moody’s rating agency has downgraded the Cooperative Banks debt rating to “Junk” status, citing fears that it is vunerable to potential loses.

The agency warned that the bank may need “external support” if it could not strengthen its balance sheet.

The news precedes the resignation of chief executive, Barry Tootell, following the banks failure to buy 631 branches from Lloyds Banking Group. “

My emphasis above.

I wonder if they will still have the money to prop up their buddies at NuLabour and “external support” does that mean ‘the taxpayers pockets’, as per usual…. when it comes to banks.
# mesmiths 2013-05-10 17:36
Forgive the ignorance but what does MSM stand for? Mainstream media?
# Roll_On_2011 2013-05-10 18:24
You guessed correctly !
# xyz 2013-05-22 13:45
Hmm .. BBC in Scotland to receive more funding to fight against independence should be the headline. Five million I read elsewhere. That entirely dwarfs any funding the YES side have.

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