Scotland could get its own TV channel, says BBC chief

Scotland could be given its own television channel. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Scotland could be given its own television channel. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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Scotland could be given its own television channel as part of a shake-up of BBC services, the chair of the BBC Trust has said.

Rona Fairhead said the move is among the options being considered as she acknowledged the corporation is not doing enough to meet the needs of Scots.

Rhona Fairhead on The Andrew Marr Show yesterday. Picture: BBC

Rhona Fairhead on The Andrew Marr Show yesterday. Picture: BBC

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has called for more Scottish programming and a dedicated Scottish channel.

Asked about the latter possibility on the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show, Ms Fairhead replied: “It think we are looking at all options right now.”

She agreed that Scots do not feel they are properly “portrayed and represented” by the BBC at the moment. I think the statistics say something has to be done to improve that.”

She added: “I think it’s very clear and the public have been very clear – the licence fee payers – that they want more portrayal, more representation not just in Scotland but across the nations, across the regions.”

Ms Fairhead said the BBC has been very “London-centric” but more work is now being dispersed around the country .

“More is produced in Scotland and Wales and in Salford around the country.”

The Scottish Government has called for a more federal BBC structure to be ­established.

Ms Sturgeon yesterday: “The BBC have got to reflect on the fact that if you look at the most recent audience council figures, something like 60-65 per cent of people outside of Scotland thought that the BBC news and current affairs broadly reflected their life.

“In Scotland that figure was less than 50 per cent.

“I’ve put forward – and the Scottish government has put forward – proposals that would see the BBC have a federal structure with more programming in Scotland and more platforms in Scotland.”

Ms Sturgeon said “many people in BBC Scotland” would agree with the idea of having a specific Scottish channel.

“People in Scotland have got a right, as people across the UK do, to see the BBC reflect life in Scotland better than it has done sometimes in the past.”
But the rolling news coverage on the BBC is at risk of being axed as part of widespread cost cutting measures at the corporation, the trust chair admitted.

Pressed over whether the BBC’s news channel is facing the axe, Ms Fairhead said “nothing is off the table”.

“Everything is being looked at - nothing is off the table,” she added. “It’s a tough settlement but the executive will work out what it is that they need to cut, the efficiencies will be put, the priority will be on making sure the programmes, stations that people listen to will be protected as much as possible.”