Gorkana Insight & Analysis Team
At last week's breakfast Gorkana caught up with BBC Scotland's John Boothman, Head of News and Current Affairs and Douglas Fraser, Business and Economy Editor.
John has been at the BBC for 26 years and replaced Atholl Duncan last year. He was previously Editor of Newsgathering and has ran and edited BBC Scotland's election coverage. Douglas was previously at The Herald and The Scotsman and plays close attention to offshore oil and renewable energy sectors.
John is responsible for BBC Scotland's various News and Current Affairs output including Reporting Scotland, Good Morning Scotland, radio output and the news online website. They also feed Scottish news into the network news bulletins and programmes such as Today, World at One and PM. Increasingly over the last four years it has been a big priority for BBC Scotland to feed more material to the network; they position themselves as one service across four platforms i.e. radio, TV, online and social media.
Across the Scottish news schedule the 6:30 programme gets a bigger audience than the 1, 6 and 10 o? clock news programmes. Interestingly the weather has been the biggest driver of audiences in the past few years in Scotland - on an average night Reporting Scotland gets between 510,000 and 550,000 but has previously reached 910,000 with a big weather story.
Rather predictably the radio listener share has stayed fairly static over recent years due to younger audiences consuming news online. However, since 2006 they have had a three-fold increase in the online weekly unique users without a great increase in resources. 85% of the site's content is generated by news and sport. Peaks are tied to key events such as the Rangers administration story, the December storm and the big freeze last year. As a matter of some pride John notes that if you combine the monthly audience reach of all the other broadcasting and press outlets in Scotland it is still fewer than half of the BBC Scotland website's reach. It is still open to debate as to whether the BBC will be taking their regional Scottish online sites to a hyper local level like STV has, however, they're looking to bolster their sites by providing more depth and analysis.
Douglas joined the BBC three and a half years ago just as the markets turned, noting that the subsequent audience appetite for economic stories has been exceedingly high. Commenting on the recent confirmation of a double dip, and the fact the recession is now longer than the 1930?s depression - he contrasts that in the initial downturn low interest rates were seen as a positive to mortgage payers and public sector job security was increased. Now high inflation means real earnings have been depressed and company insolvencies are up.
Douglas feels Scotland has a positive position in the recession, in that the strengths are distinctively Scottish whereas the weakness are across the board i.e. depressed business and consumer confidence and instability from the Eurozone. Scottish manufacturing, hospitality and food & drink (whiskey and salmon in particular) are fairing positively whilst construction and retail have been predictably suffering.
Regarding the referendum debate, Douglas posed questions in terms of if Scotland became independent what currency it would use, the interest rate and tax implications, European membership and how business friendly it would be. He also pondered on an independent Scotland's relationship with its media. He proffers that for the size of the country Scotland probably boasts the most competitive newspaper market in the world but this does not solve the issue of the unsustainable business model of declining print sales subsidising online content.
In terms of the day to day business feed, Good Morning Scotland has a big business audience as do Reporting Scotland and Newsnight which are all considered staples of the Scottish outputs weekly furniture. Douglas encourages PR input to the online side in particular as the business audience is less likely to tune in to the main bulletins and is therefore more present online. Douglas himself writes a blog three times a week as well as focusing more on Twitter. They do a weekly business programme every Sunday morning at 10:30 which is one of their most popular podcasts.
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