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BBC Scotland to get new £30m TV channel as part of ‘largest investment’ in country in 20 years

BBC announces new TV channel and £40m in funding for Scotland

A new TV channel for the BBC in Scotland will begin broadcasting in autumn 2018 with a budget of £30m, forming part of the “biggest single investment” in the country’s broadcast content for more than 20 years, director general Tony Hall has announced.

The channel, BBC Scotland, will be broadcast from 7pm to midnight every evening and will show drama, factual, comedy and news programmes made in Scotland. It will house a Scottish news hour at 9pm.

It will be housed on a “prominent” slot on the programme guide, the BBC said. The BBC will be creating 80 new posts for journalists to work on the channel.

The news output on BBC One in Scotland - which includes four nationwide BBC news slots and three Reporting Scotland slots - will remain in its current form.

The creation of the channel and its dedicated news slot follows calls for a Scottish Six - a combination of the main News at Six from the BBC's London headquarters and Reporting Scotland in one news hour - after viewers questioned the relevancy of the nationwide BBC news to a Scottish audience.

Fiona Hyslop, Scotland's secretary for culture, tourism and external affairs, last year confirmed that Scottish minsters were “pressing” for a more favourable outcome for BBC Scotland.

She told The Drum that the Scottish government believes “real and sustainable change will only come when the BBC transfers decision making powers to Scotland.”

“That is why were are pressing for a decentralised BBC with a fairer share of licence fee raised in Scotland, spent in Scotland,” she added.

The new 9pm news slot, reporting from a Scottish perspective, is the BBC's answer to this.

The £30m budget for the channel - made up on £19m in new money and £11m from the current BBC2 opts that will end with the creation of the channel - is the equivalent to that of BBC4’s.

The BBC in Scotland will also receive an additional £20m a year to make UK-wide network programmes, with a focus on drama and factual programming. Lord Hall said the additional £20m for making UK-wide programmes would be a "huge boost for BBC Scotland and for the creative industries in Scotland".

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

"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," he said.

The director-general also announced £1.2m for Gaelic channel BBC Alba, boosting its budget to £20m.

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