New BBC TV channel announced for Scotland

Wednesday 22 February 2017

BBC Scotland HQ, Glasgow. Image: Michel Curi/Creative Commons

The Director General of the BBC, Tony Hall, has today announced a new channel and funding increase for BBC Scotland.

The TV channel will have an annual budget of £30million and include a “Scottish news hour” at 9pm with 80 new posts for journalists and broadcast from 7pm to midnight every evening. It will be launched in late 2018 and be available across the UK.

Funding for the new channel will be complimented by a £20million annual increase in funds for BBC Scotland to produce UK-wide content. This will amount to an overall funding increase of £40million annually, according to the BBC.

Content for the new channel will include drama, comedy and factual programming, with the hour-long, “Scotland-edited” news programme covering stories from Scotland, the UK and the wider world.

The development of a 9pm news show is partly in response to criticism that there was an underrepresentation of news relevant to Scottish viewers, which led to calls for a “Scottish Six” news service that integrated the BBC’s UK-wide 6pm news show.

Speaking to BBC staff in Glasgow, DG Tony Hall said: “We know that viewers in Scotland love BBC television but we also know that they want us to better reflect their lives and better reflect modern Scotland. It is vital that we get this right. The best way of achieving that is a dedicated channel for Scotland”.

“It’s a channel that will be bold, creative and ambitious, with a brand-new Scotland-edited international news programme at its heart.”

The new channel is now subject to approval from Ofcom and the BBC’s new unitary board, with newly appointed Chairperson David Clementi at the helm.

It is hoped that the new channel will help to stem recent criticism about the quality of programming and the range of spending by the BBC in Scotland. In 2015/2016 only 55% of the £320million raised by the licence fee in Scotland was spent on local network content. Wales, on the other hand, saw 95% of its fee spent in Wales while Northern Ireland saw 74%, according to the BBC.

On Tuesday the BBC also announced that it would increase its investment in English-language programming for Wales by 50%.