Full Scottish – BBC Scottish Six

BBC Scottish Six Needs to be Edited and Anchored from Scotland.

It finally looks like the decades-long wait for a BBC Scottish Six news programme may be coming to an end.

The Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee have urged the corporation to meet demands for a 6pm news programme entirely edited and anchored in Scotland.

It supported the creation of such a programme after coming north of the Border for the first time recently, when it heard evidence from BBC Scotland and Scottish Television executives in Glasgow.

After the committee session Full Scottish spoke to its Scottish member, SNP MP John Nicolson. In the interview, which was broadcast on the online Full Scottish TV show last Sunday, Mr Nicolson argued that it was long past time for a ‘Scottish Six’.

Fiona Hyslop MSP - BBC Scottish SixAlso on last Sunday’s show Scottish Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said a Scottish Six was just one of the steps the BBC needed to take to better reflect the country.

She said the corporation itself had admitted it had not properly come to terms with devolution and she argued that decision making and budget decisions within the BBC had to be devolved.

Ms Hyslop had secured an agreement that the Scottish government would be closely involved in every stage of discussions on the renewal of the BBC charter.

The Commons CMS committee considered the BBC decision to pilot three alternative versions of a Scottish Six: one a tweaked version of the current programme, the second fully edited and anchored from Scotland, the third a hybrid show which crossed to London for UK and international news.

The committee considered the hybrid option a ”needless extravagance” which would be considered patronising to a Scottish audience. It backed the second option.

John Nicholson MP - Scottish SixJohn Nicolson said last night that BBC Scotland should now “plan and deliver” such a programme.

He said: “BBC Scotland should now deliver a high quality Six O’Clock television news programme for Scottish audiences with a broader remit of national, UK and international stories … In the way that Radio Scotland or any newspaper already does.”

Not all Scottish political parties are as enthusiastic as the SNP. Scottish Conservative culture spokesman Jackson Carlaw was quoted last night as saying the Scottish Six proposals were “worthy of consideration” but could be used by the Scottish government to “shove propaganda down the throats of a dinner-time viewing public”.

He added that “many people” would rather watch the current 6pm news programme, edited and presented from London, rather than ‘an extension of the current Reporting Scotland”.

The exact character of the planned Scottish Six, however, can only be speculated upon as none of the three pilots has been shown to the wider public.

The SNP has long advocated a Scottish Six, although Ms Hyslop underlined on last week’s Full Scottish that the Scottish Government could not and would not seek to influence the actual reporting of news.

Many critics of the BBC would now argue that more than a Scottish Six is needed to make the corporation fit for purpose in Scotland. As well as advocating the internal devolution of decision making and budget decisions on Full Scottish Ms Hyslop also expressed unhappiness that only 55 per cent of Scottish licence money comes back to this country, a lower percentage than other nations in the UK.

There is also dissatisfaction at the lack of long-running BBC Scotland drama beyond River City.

The Corporation itself has yet to reveal much about its future plans.

Its head of news Gary Smith’s major announcement events have focussed on the scrapping of Radio Scotland’s popular Big Debate programme and the eventual replacement of the nightly Scotland 2016 news programme with a weekly show, the details of which remain hazy.

A BBC Scotland spokesman was quoted last night, after the Commons Committee statement, saying that  it “would hope to be in a position later this year to provide more detail on how we intend to improve our overall service provision in Scotland”.


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