MacDonald and McKerrell go to bat for piping at BBC parliamentary hearing
On the heels of a grass roots petition signed by more than 10,000 supporters worldwide, Finlay MacDonald and Simon McKerrell appeared at a Scottish Parliament hearing on the “BBC: Impact of the Digital-first Agenda.”
MacDonald, Director of Piping at the National Piping Centre, and McKerrell, Professor in Media & Music at Glasgow Caledonian University, spoke about the need to preserve BBC Scotland’s Pipeline and Crunluath piping programs in the wake of draconian budget cuts to the UK’s publicly-funded, commercial-free broadcasting service.
Along with MacDonald and McKerrell, Professor Tommy Smith OBE, Artistic Director, Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, and Head of Jazz, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland also appeared.
What metrics are they using to measure their delivery? Because it seems to me that the only metric that they’re interested in at present is the stuff that’s easily measurable. . . The problem is that they don’t deliver on the public service remit. . . . It really is a question about the public good. – Simon McKerrell
Sources have said that, despite the worldwide petition, the outlook for the future of the piping programs in the UK is bleak, and if they will continue they will be without any substantial original recordings of piping.
“What metrics are [BBC Scotland] using to measure their delivery?” McKerrell said in his testimony. “Because it seems to me that the only metric that they’re interested in at present is the stuff that’s easily measurable. . . The problem is that they don’t deliver on the public service remit. . . . It really is a question about the public good.”
Here’s the full testimony from the February 24th hearing:
The Scottish Parliament will continue with a hearing on March 7th with testimony from Steve Carson, Director, BBC Scotland, and Louise Thornton, Head of Commissioning, BBC Scotland.
A document prepared by the BBC for the March 7th hearing includes these statements on piping:
“There are also changes to our piping offer but there will still be a pipe music programme as regularly as there is at present.”
“BBC Scotland’s production team currently produces two piping programmes at the moment, one for BBC Radio nan Gàidheal [Crunluath] and one for BBC Radio Scotland [Pipeline] and the proposed schedule change will deliver a more efficient way of serving both audiences, which will involve a different piping offer. This new programme will remain in the current Pipeline slot on a Saturday.”
The BBC has carried regular programs specifically on piping for exactly 100 years, coinciding with the inception of the publicly-funded broadcaster. The piping programs are seen by many in the UK as an important source for exclusive recordings of performances, either in-studio or on-site at various piping and drumming events.
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