BBC Scotland’s decision to stop its TV breakfast bulletins from next week is “concerning”, according to the SNP’s media spokesperson. 

John Nicolson warned that the move, coming amid the coronavirus pandemic, “highlights the need for more Scotland-based voices to appear” on the broadcaster’s programmes more frequently.

The BBC revealed yesterday that it would be stopping the morning bulletin temporarily as it needs to be “realistic” about its resources and demands on its teams amid the coronavirus outbreak. The announcement was met with frustration on Twitter.

Nicolson (pictured), MP for Ochil and South Perthshire, said while his party understands social distancing is having its impact on the BBC, making such a move at this time is “concerning”.

The National:

He told The National: “I and my SNP colleagues absolutely appreciate the necessity of social distancing as we fight against the spread of coronavirus, and fully support BBC Scotland staff in taking these measures.

“However, losing a morning bulletin at a time when the public is crying out for reliable and trustworthy news is concerning.

“This highlights the need for more Scotland-based voices to appear on BBC Breakfast and the BBC network more generally, especially if there is no technological workaround for Reporting Scotland’s breakfast bulletin.”

A BBC spokesperson acknowledged we are living in worrying times and said the broadcaster is “acutely aware” that its actions are especially important to its audiences now. 

However, they continued: “The BBC is not immune from the impact of the virus. Right now, over 10% of BBC Scotland’s existing workforce is either self-isolating, shielding or actually unwell, and sadly we can only expect that figure to grow.  

“To comply with social distancing requirements, we have also had to reduce numbers in our TV studio spaces. And although our key workers are able to move around legally to do their jobs, we are trying to be responsible and limit this movement to as little as possible.  

“We are also now, quite rightly, providing additional live coverage of Scottish Government daily briefings – but with reduced staff for health reasons, something has to give.”

The spokesperson said they had been left with “tough decisions” to make – which led to the move to stop production on the Breakfast TV news bulletins as of Monday. They said this would “free up resources” later in the day.

The BBC also stressed BBC Radio Scotland and BBC Radio nan Gaidheal would continue to provide news through the breakfast period.

Some social media users had suggested the broadcaster was ending production on its Scottish news bulletins altogether, but the BBC stressed that was not the case.

The decision to stop the Breakfast bulletin came after the number of cases of coronavirus in Scotland topped 1000. 

Scots currently face strict social distancing laws to comply with, and are only allowed to leave their homes to get essential products like groceries or medicines, to help a vulnerable person, to take one bit of exercise per day or to travel to and from work if that work can not be done at home.