The BBC is to launch a new channel in Scotland which will begin broadcasting in autumn 2018, director general Tony Hall has announced.

The corporation has also announced plans to increase investment in programming in Wales by 50%, with £8.5m of new funding by 2019/20.

The new Scottish channel, BBC Scotland, will have a budget of £30m, comprising existing and £19m in new funding, equivalent to the amount spent on BBC4.

The plans for the channel include a Scottish news hour at 9pm, which will broadcast stories from Scotland, the UK and the world.

Hall also announced an increase of about £20m a year for Scotland to make UK-wide programmes, up from £65m currently.

This brings the total increase in investment in Scotland to nearly £40m.

The move comes after consistent pressure from the Scottish government for the BBC to give its Scottish operation greater control of budgets, staffing and decision making. Back in 2015, Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon, speaking at the the Edinburgh TV Festival, called for a new BBC Scotland TV channel and a greater slice of the licence fee.

The BBC’s 2015/16 accounts showed that £320m came from the licence fee in Scotland, but that only £176.5m was spent on local content and Scottish-made BBC network output.

The new channel, BBC Scotland, will broadcast from 7pm every evening.

The BBC said it will “provide a full mix of content to inform, educate and entertain” – including its own integrated hour-long news programme at 9pm (15 mins at 7pm weekends), edited and presented from Scotland.

This will lead to the creation of around 80 new journalist jobs.

The BBC also said the channel will have its own prominent EPG slot on broadcast channels in Scotland and be available online and in iPlayer in HD in Scotland and across the UK;
Tony Hall, BBC Director-General, said: “I said at the beginning of the year that the BBC needed to be more creative and distinctive.  The BBC is Britain’s broadcaster but we also need to do more for each nation just as we are doing more for Britain globally.
"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. It is vital that we get this right.  The best way of achieving that is a dedicated channel for Scotland."

The proposals will be subject to approval by the BBC’s new unitary board, and as necessary, by Ofcom.
The BBC said it will shortly be making announcements about what more it will do in Northern Ireland and for Britain globally.

Staff Reporter

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