BBC Board decision on the BBC Scotland TV channel Public Interest Test

This consultation was open from 14 June-25 July 2017 and has now closed

BBC Board decision on the BBC Scotland TV channel Public Interest Test and responses to consultation from stakeholders.

In February 2017 the BBC set out plans for additional investment in content and services in Scotland, including a proposal to launch a new BBC Scotland TV channel in Autumn 2018.

As the proposed channel would be a material change to the BBC’s UK Public Services, the BBC Board was required to undertake a Public Interest Test. The Public Interest Test is an evidence-based process used to assess the public value of a change and its impact on competition. To meet the criteria set out in the Public Interest Test, the BBC Board must be satisfied that the new initiative supports the BBC’s Mission and promotes its Public purposes; that the BBC has taken reasonable steps to ensure that the change has no unnecessary adverse impact on fair and effective competition; and that the public value of the initiative justifies any impact on competition. Following extensive audience research, economic analysis and a period of consultation, the BBC Board has concluded that the proposal for the BBC Scotland channel satisfies the Public Interest Test criteria.

The new channel will strongly contribute to the fulfilment of the BBC’s Mission and promotion of its Public Purposes especially:

  • to provide impartial news and information
  • show the most creative, high quality and distinctive output and services
  • reflect, represent and serve the diverse communities of the UK’s nations and regions
  • support the creative economy across the UK

The Public Interest Test submission and the main supporting evidence used to inform the BBC Board’s decision are published below.

The BBC has now referred the proposal to Ofcom who, as the BBC’s regulator, will decide whether the proposed channel can proceed or not. Information on how Ofcom will reach their decision can be found here.

BBC Scotland Public Interest Test submission

This document describes the BBC’s proposals to launch a BBC Scotland TV channel, the changes we have made to the original proposals in light of further research and stakeholder feedback and an explanation of why the revised proposals satisfy the Public Interest Test.

As described in the BBC’s submission to Ofcom, the new BBC Scotland channel will have:

  • Core broadcast hours every day from 7pm until midnight. The channel will broadcast from 12pm to allow broadcasting of live political and sporting events as well as other special events when required. A BBC Two simulcast will fill the schedule between and around these events and 7pm. BBC Scotland would be available on the main terrestrial, satellite and cable platforms in Scotland as well as via satellite and iPlayer in the rest of the UK
  • A programme budget just over £32 million per full year
  • A news programme (shown at 9pm on weekdays) covering international, UK and Scottish stories, told from a Scottish perspective, with shorter bulletins on weekends
  • Some programming previously shown on BBC Two Scotland
  • New programmes that reflect Scottish life including the opportunity to premiere some new comedy and drama
  • Repeats and archive programmes - around 50% of shows on the channel will be repeats

The BBC has written to Ofcom to update its proposals for the BBC Scotland channel.

Supporting evidence

Audience research 

The BBC commissioned independent quantitative audience research from Kantar TNS and qualitative research from PAPA.

 

Economic modelling and analysis

The BBC commissioned Frontier Economics and Communications Chambers to model the predicted reach and share of the new channel, and examine its impact on fair and effective competition. As the report includes commercially sensitive information we have not published this analysis.

Consultation feedback

On 14 June the BBC opened a six week consultation on the proposed BBC Scotland TV channel. We received 45 responses from stakeholders. Where permission has been given, these are published below.

Consultation (now closed)

The BBC’s consultation on the proposed TV channel for Scotland was open from Wednesday 14 June to Tuesday 25 July and is now closed.