Sunday, August 18, 2019
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A new TV channel for the BBC in Scotland will begin broadcasting in autumn next year, BBC director-general Tony Hall has announced.

The channel will have a budget of £30m and plans for the channel include a Scottish news hour from 9pm that will broadcast stories from Scotland, the UK and the world.

The director-general also announced an increase of about £20m a year for Scotland to make UK-wide programmes – and £1.2m extra for Gaelic channel BBC Alba, taking its budget to £20m.

Maggie Cunningham, chair of MG ALBA – which operates BBC ALBA in partnership with the BBC –said: “Lord Hall’s declaration of support for Gaelic broadcasting recognises the integrity of BBC ALBA and reflects the views of both the UK and Scottish Governments which have stated unequivocally that our channel should have sustained support given the success it has enjoyed.

“We welcome the commitment to providing a weekend news service on BBC ALBA, something which viewers have sought.  We also welcome the stated aim for the new BBC Scotland channel to ‘support the delivery of extra programmes for BBC ALBA’.

“What we need to do now is work constructively and collaboratively with the BBC to clarify how this extra programming will materialise.

We consistently asked the BBC for a contribution of ten hours per week of programming as part of the Charter Review so further discussions with the BBC will be necessary to ascertain what exactly is being proposed and how it will be funded. 

“The channel needs new original programming and a significant reduction in repeats in order to thrive.  BBC ALBA has proved to be a Scottish broadcasting success story over the last eight years and we are committed to building on that success.”

The new BBC Scotland channel will broadcast from 7pm to midnight every evening using £19m in new money and £11m from programmes currently made for BBC Two in Scotland.  There will be 80 new posts for journalists

Lord Hall described it as the biggest single investment in broadcast content in Scotland for more than 20 years.

Lord 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.

"The best way of achieving this 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 Scottish government had earlier argued the BBC needed to "catch up" with devolution and to give its Scottish operation greater control of budgets, staffing and decision making.

Responding to the latest announcement, SNP MP John Nicolson said he welcomed the new channel and extra investment for Scotland.

However, he said he was "disappointed" the BBC had "killed off" the idea of separate Scottish Six news on BBC One.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon used social media to react to the news.  She tweeted: "Lots to welcome in today's announcement.  @scotgov has long argued for new BBC Scotland channel.  Vital that it is funded well. "Commitments to new investment and 80 additional jobs for journalists long overdue and very positive."

But she added: "It doesn't deliver everything that everyone wanted - e.g.  no Scottish 6 disappointing - but progress and hopefully sign of new thinking."

Paul Holleran, Scottish organiser for journalists' union The NUJ, said it was a "shot in the arm" for Scottish journalism. However, he said the amount of investment "falls well short" of what the BBC management and unions in Scotland were looking for.

Lord Hall said Scotland already made network programmes such as Shetland, Two Doors Down and Still Game but it needed to make more.
He said the additional £20m for making UK-wide programmes would be a "huge boost for BBC Scotland and for the creative industries in Scotland".

The proposals are subject to approval by the BBC's new unitary board and possibly by Ofcom.

(This is an updated version of a report published earlier)

 

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