Lord Hall: BBC Scotland should have greater budget control

A `Scottish Six' new programme are among the proposals put forward by Director-General, Lord Hall. Picture: John Devlin
A `Scottish Six' new programme are among the proposals put forward by Director-General, Lord Hall. Picture: John Devlin
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BBC executives north of the Border should be handed greater powers over budgets and decision-making covering “what is done in Scotland for Scotland”, the corporation’s director-general told MSPs.

Lord Hall said a long-called for “Scottish Six” news programme is among the proposals being considered as part of a major review of the BBC’s news services. He also said he wants more dramas and documentaries which “reflect the whole of Scotland” being made in Scotland during an appearance before Holyrood’s education and culture committee yesterday.

But a proposal by bosses in Scotland, which set out options for a new Scottish television channel, a second radio station and greater online content was dropped by corporation chiefs, he admitted, over budget cuts.

The corporation has faced criticism over claims that Scotland gets a bad deal in terms of spending levels compared with the rest of the UK, while Nationalists complained over allegations of perceived “bias” in its news coverage during the independence referendum.

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Lord Hall played down funding concerns, saying that figures showed £108 million was spent north of the Border on Scottish-only content.

But he added: “We could do so much better in telling the story of Scotland to Scottish audiences, but also from that, to the whole of the UK and to the world.”

A review is currently being carried out into the way BBC commissions its television programmes throughout the UK. The BBC is also to review its news operation across the UK and Lord Hall said it is time to “make a change”.

He said: “This is looking at the provision of news across television, radio and also online. Of course in that there will be a debate about what has become known as the Scottish Six O’Clock news.”

He added: “I want to devolve more decision making on how we provide services in Scotland to the BBC team in Scotland.”

The BBC has come under fire over a so called “lift and shift” approach to programme making, where shows like the Weakest Link are made by BBC in Scotland but have no obvious Scottish content.