Scottish broadcaster James Naughtie is taking on a central role in the BBC's coverage of the independence referendum.

The BBC said that, as well as continuing to regularly present Today on Radio 4, Naughtie will host Good Morning Scotland for two days a week and take on a chief reporter role across Radio 4 news programmes.

Loading article content

He said: "I am thrilled at this enhancement of my role. Constitutional debate and decision next year has great historic importance for Scotland and the whole of the UK, so I am excited to be in the thick of it, on both sides of the border, from start to finish.

"The opportunity to spend more time working in Scotland in referendum year is something that I am looking forward to immensely.

"This is one of the great stories of our time and I'm delighted to be so involved in it."

BBC Scotland director Ken MacQuarrie said: "The referendum story is of huge significance for BBC Scotland and I'm delighted James will be contributing to our coverage of it as part of the Good Morning Scotland presenting team."

Naughtie began his journalism career at the Press and Journal in Aberdeen and worked at the Scotsman, the Washington Post and the Guardian before moving into radio, presenting The Week in Westminster and The World at One.

He has also written several radio documentaries, TV series and books.

Naughtie will be back presenting on the Today programme full-time before the general election in 2015.

As part of the shake-up, BBC newsreader Mishal Husain is joining the Today programme's presenting line-up.

Husain will become the second woman on the Radio 4 flagship morning show when she joins Naughtie, Sarah Montague, John Humphrys, Evan Davis and Justin Webb in the autumn.

BBC director-general Tony Hall said: "It is such great news that Mishal will be joining the Today programme. She is a first-rate journalist who will be an excellent addition to what is already a very strong team.

"I am also particularly pleased that her appointment means there will be another female voice on the programme, which I believe is extremely important."

Husain said: "I have long been an admirer of Today and am delighted to have the opportunity to join the team. The programme has unparalleled influence across BBC News and on our national conversation and I am looking forward to being part of it."

Husain, the BBC's first Washington-based presenter, currently presents Sunday's BBC News At Ten and is the main host of Impact, a 90-minute daily programme on BBC World News.

Last year, she was one of the key faces of the BBC's Olympics coverage.

She reported from Pakistan after the death of Osama Bin Laden and the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

BBC bosses have previously been criticised for not putting enough female presenters and guests on the agenda-setting Today programme.

Last year, Culture Minister Ed Vaizey complained about the lack of women on the flagship show in a House of Commons debate on gender balance in broadcasting.

He cited research which showed that the number of women on the show, which has around seven million listeners a week, averaged just 17% of guests and reporters.

Last year, then director-general George Entwistle said he would like to see the programme, which launched in 1957, appoint a woman when it signs up its next presenter.

News of the appointment comes just days after a report revealed that only one in five solo presenters on UK radio is female.

Campaigning group Sound Women found that in co-hosted shows, listeners are nearly 10 times as likely to hear two or more male presenters than they are to hear two or more female presenters.