The BBC Responds to the Piping Press Story on the Future of ‘Pipeline’

Following yesterday’s revelation on these pages about the future of Radio Scotland’s ‘Pipeline’ programme we contacted the BBC for a response.

To their credit they replied promptly to our query, writes the Editor. A spokeswoman at their Pacific Quay HQ in Glasgow said:

‘It is important that we reflect pipe music on our schedules and we remain committed to providing this for our audience. 

‘We are making some editorial changes to the programming on Radio Scotland and looking at developing a different piping offer for this audience.  

‘The new  programme will remain in the current ‘Pipeline’ slot on a Saturday evening. It will not move online only. 

‘At the moment BBC Scotland produces two piping programmes, one for Radio nan Gaidheal and one for Radio Scotland and so we are looking at the best way of serving both audiences.   

‘BBC Radio Scotland remains Scotland’s second most listened to radio station and we are committed to continuing to offer our audiences the best quality speech, music and discussion whenever and wherever they choose to listen.’

MacRaeBanner ’19
Ayrshire Bagpipes Nov 2020
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Read into that what you will but using my experience of BBC speak I will translate:

1 ‘Pipeline’ as we know it is finished

2 The current staff’s generous contracts are over

3 The new arrangements will mean BBC will stay on the right side of their charter requirement to cover piping – but only just

4 A cheap playlist show looks like the cost saving alternative

5 Possibly the same show will go out on Radio nan Gaidheal and Radio Scotland with different language overlay meaning the end of ‘Crunluath’

5 The new show will be available ‘on the wireless’ and online

6 Northern Meeting and Glenfiddich broadcasts? Don’t hold your breath. This is all about saving money remember.

There was journalistic satisfaction in breaking this story yesterday but from a piping perspective it gave me no pleasure whatsoever. It begs the question, how long would the BBC have kept us in the dark had we not done so?

They knew they were about to do the dirty on us and would have sneaked it out at an opportune moment in some innocuous press release the way they do these things.

‘Our national music has yet again become a victim of the bean counters……

There will be those who feel they have had a raw deal from ‘Pipeline’ producers and presenters over the last couple of decades. They should refrain from any schadenfreude. That sort of inapposite self-indulgence gets us nowhere.

And we should wait to see what the Radio Scotland’s ‘different piping offer’ is before raising the cudgels. But I fear the worst and that piping will be the loser.

Our national music has yet again become a victim of the bean counters. It makes one very angry when one reads of the inflated salaries of some BBC presenters and autocue readers that piping can’t have at least one decent slot in the broadcasting schedules.

Isn’t it an outrage that here in Scotland the national broadcaster can’t provide us with a sustainable piping programme for an hour a week? Are ‘Big Rab’ and Steve Rooklidge and his California ‘Piping Hour’ now where it’s at?

And this under the watch of a Scottish Government in Edinburgh with a nationalist party in charge.

We need a serious piping programme with serious commentators and serious journalistic content. The sort of treatment classical music gets on Radio 3. We deserve no less.

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