John McLellan: New BBC Scotland channel may send news providers the way of Toys R Us

BBC Scotland studios in Glasgow. Pic by John  Devlin
BBC Scotland studios in Glasgow. Pic by John Devlin
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The BBC’s plan to launch a new Scottish channel has potential to seriously damage commercial news providers, writes John McLellan.

When BBC Scotland was handed £30 million of licence fee payers’ money to launch a new channel, it was like all the corporation’s Christmases had come at once.
But unlike spoilt children on Boxing Day, there was no-one to say “make sure you don’t waste all that money”. At the heart of BBC Scotland’s spending spree has been a plan to spend £6m on recruiting 80 journalists to produce a nightly news programme, even though that programme will inevitably feature the same events covered in other Scottish and UK bulletins earlier in the day.

READ MORE: Ofcom green-light new BBC Scotland channel

The BBC is using the licence fee to distort existing, well-served commercial markets.

Ofcom has now indicated that it thinks all this is fine, that there will be no impact on existing news markets, but The powering up of BBC Scotland news.

It has the potential to send commercial news providers the same way as Toys R Us.

John McLellan is the Director of the Scottish Newspaper Society.