BBC chief to appear before MSPs after unveiling ‘Scottish 9’

BBC director general Tony Hall is to appear at Holyrood. Photo:LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)

BBC director general Tony Hall is to appear at Holyrood. Photo:LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)

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BBC director general Tony Hall is to appear before Holyrood a day after announcing plans for a new Scottish channel.

The broadcaster stopped short of creating a so-called Scottish Six on the new channel to replace the UK-wide 6pm news and Scottish bulletin, but it will include an hour-long news programme, combining Scottish, UK and international news, at 9pm on weekdays.

The BBC said its current UK-wide 6pm news show had “performed strongly in Scotland in recent years”.

READ MORE: BBC announces new ‘Scottish 9’ on dedicated new £30m channel

BBC Scotland is due to begin broadcasting between 7pm and midnight daily from autumn 2018 and the hour-long news show, which will be edited and presented in Scotland, will lead to the creation of 80 new journalist posts.

The corporation is investing £19 million a year for the three years up to March 2019 in the new channel, which will be available on digital services such as Freeview and Sky as well as online and via the iPlayer.

The BBC also expects to increase the amount it spends in Scotland making programmes for a UK audience by an average of £20 million a year in the next three years, up from about £65 million in 2015-16.

Announcing the new channel, Lord Hall said: “All of this combined amounts to the biggest single investment by the BBC in broadcast content in Scotland in over 20 years.

“This will be a huge boost for BBC Scotland and for the Scottish creative industries.”

READ MORE: What we know about BBC’s new channel for Scotland

The announcement follows STV revealing plans for its own hour-long news programme at 7pm, STV News Tonight, to begin this year.

Lord Hall will give evidence to Holyrood’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee on Thursday along with BBC Scotland director Donalda MacKinnon and Ken MacQuarrie, the BBC’s director for nations and regions.

Committee convener Joan McAlpine said: “I welcome the announcement of a new dedicated channel for Scotland, together with increased investment on programme making in Scotland and the commitment to 80 new jobs for journalists. I look forward to hearing more detail tomorrow from the Director General, in particular with regard to funding.

“There is a clear need for a fairer share of licence fee money raised in Scotland to be spent in Scotland. In 2014/15 only 55% raised was spent in Scotland, compared to 95% in Wales. Whilst this is a step in the right direction, the Committee is sure to have a lot of questions on how these ambitious targets will deliver value for money for license fee payers in Scotland and how they are going to be delivered.”

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