BBC to launch channel for Scotland

Responding to the needs to reflect the UK and the people it serves, the BBC has reviewed its programming and services in the nations. As a result of this, the BBC will be making significant changes and major investments in the nations.

The BBC says it wants to do even more to reflect Scotland on screen and to recognise the need to spend more of the licence fee raised in Scotland on Scottish content and services.

“That is why the BBC is making the biggest single investment in broadcast content in Scotland in over twenty years,” said the Corporation. From Autumn 2018, the BBC will be broadcasting a new TV channel – BBC Scotland. It will invest £19 million (€22.5m) in the channel and in digital developments.

It is also putting another £1.2 million into BBC Alba – which takes the total new commitment to services for Scotland – in Scotland – to £20 million.

“We are also currently making major investments in Scottish programming across the BBC’s Network TV output, with a particular focus on the commissioning of drama and factual programmes. Compared to 2015/16, this means we will be spending around £20 million extra, per year, over the three years to March 2019. This will support the delivery of our network production targets and put a greater emphasis on portraying the Nation,” it said.

The new channel, BBC Scotland, will:

  • Broadcast from 7pm every evening;
  • Provide a full mix of content to inform, educate and entertain – including its own integrated hour-long news programme at 9pm (15 mins at 7pm weekends), edited and presented from Scotland (this will lead to the creation of around 80 new journalist posts);
  • Work in close partnership with the creative sector, other national institutions and other broadcasters to produce and acquire content;
  • Work in collaboration with other BBC television channels to offer additional content;
  • Have its own prominent EPG slot on broadcast channels in Scotland;
  • Be available online and in iPlayer in HD in Scotland and across the UK;
  • Support the delivery of extra programmes for BBC Alba as well including weekend news in Gaelic;
  • Together with existing funding, the channel will have an initial budget of over £30 million.

“I said at the beginning of the year that the BBC needed to be more creative and distinctive,” commented Tony Hall, BBC Director-General. “The BBC is Britain’s broadcaster but we also need to do more for each nation just as we are doing more for Britain globally. 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 BBC has the luxury of having first-class creative teams and brilliant journalists, who I know will make this new channel a huge success.”

“The additional investment in Scottish drama and factual programming rightly recognises both the need to do more across our output and the huge pool of talent available in Scotland. We do make great programmes here, such as Shetland, Britain’s Ancient Capital – Secrets of Orkney, Two Doors Down and the brilliant Still Game – but we do need to do more,” he admitted.

“All of this combined amounts to the biggest single investment by the BBC in broadcast content in Scotland in over twenty years. This will be a huge boost for BBC Scotland and for the Scottish creative industries. This is an exciting time for BBC Scotland and for the millions of Scots who love TV,” he declared.

The proposals will be subject to approval by the BBC’s new unitary board, and as necessary, by Ofcom.

The BBC will shortly be making announcements about what more it will do in Northern Ireland and for Britain globally following a February 21 announcement regarding Wales.

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