February 2019 date for new BBC Scotland television channel

BBC Scotland building
Image caption The new channel for BBC Scotland will be based at its headquarters at Pacific Quay in Glasgow

The BBC has announced that its dedicated TV channel for Scotland will go live in February next year.

It had initially been planned to start broadcasting this autumn.

However, BBC Scotland director Donalda MacKinnon said "coming on air early in the new year was the best option for us, audiences and our suppliers".

Broadcasting regulator Ofcom has given "provisional" approval to the plans for the channel which will have a budget of just over £32m per full year.

Other aspects of the project include;

  • A news programme (shown at 21:00 on weekdays) covering "international, UK and Scottish stories, told from a Scottish perspective", with shorter bulletins at weekends
  • New programmes that reflect Scottish life, including the opportunity to premiere some new comedy and drama
  • Repeats and archive programmes - about 50% of shows on the channel will be repeat material
  • Core broadcast hours every day from 19:00 until midnight

It is proposed that the new channel will take the place currently occupied by BBC Four on electronic programme guides (EPG) in Scotland. BBC Four would move down the EPG to a less prominent slot.

Getting the channel right is preferable to simply getting it on air as quickly as possible."

Donalda MacKinnon, Director BBC Scotland

Regulator Ofcom said its aim was to see Scottish audiences well served, both by the BBC and the broadcasting sector as a whole.

The body is due to end a consultation period on 18 May and then issue its final report later in the year.

In an email to staff, Ms MacKinnon said: "In deciding when to launch, we looked at a number of options, including late autumn and around Christmas time, but we concluded that coming on air early in the new year is the best option for us, audiences and our suppliers.

"We took into consideration programme development and production time and audience trends during holidays - especially around the crowded marketing period at Christmas.

"Getting the channel right is preferable to simply getting it on air as quickly as possible and having some additional time after final approval should be beneficial."

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