In my opinion: Glenn Preston: Helping ensure broadcasters deliver on what Scots audiences expect

TELEVISION is changing in Scotland. Nearly a century has passed since John Logie Baird transmitted the very first TV pictures from Glasgow. From the first BBC Scotland service in the 1950s, to digital switchover in 2011, there has been a steady stream of technological change and cultural achievement.

Scots of every age can recall a classic from our nation’s rich TV past – whether it’s Scotch & Wry, Take the High Road, Taggart or Monarch of the Glen.

We watch more TV in Scotland than the UK average, and today’s viewers have more choice than ever before. This year has seen the launch of STV2, with a news show covering Scotland and the wider UK, together with new local services for Aberdeen, Ayr and Dundee.

Meanwhile, the BBC has announced plans for a new TV channel, BBC Scotland, with extra investment for news and current affairs.

We’re also seeing millions of pounds channelled into the industry by Creative Scotland. This funding encourages major film and TV producers to base their work in Scotland, employing Scottish talent, developing skills and supporting local economies. Estimates suggest this money is generating £10 in economic benefits for every pound invested.

As the broadcasting regulator, our job is to ensure broadcasters deliver the range and quality of programmes that Scottish audiences expect. Our research consistently tells us that people value content for Scotland – programmes about local issues and people, and relevant news.

For example, two-thirds of Scots say that TV is their most important source of news. And, tellingly, many of the most popular shows here last year had a local flavour – from BBC One’s award-winning Scottish comedy, Still Game, to the football World Cup qualifier against England.

But one in five Scottish viewers tell us they feel Scotland is negatively portrayed on TV. All broadcasters need to do more to address this, and the BBC can help play a leading role. Its local programmes, news and radio stations from part of many Scots’ daily lives.

We want the BBC to focus more than ever on quality programmes that reflect and represent modern Scottish society.

So, on October 13, we published a statement and new licence for the BBC, which introduces safeguards to ensure the Corporation delivers for the people of Scotland.

Alongside the statement and licence, we published a document for audiences in Scotland, which sets out the regulatory conditions that apply specifically to the BBC’s services in Scotland.

From next year, we’re upping the amount of news and current affairs that BBC One Scotland has to broadcast. That channel, and BBC Two Scotland, will also be required to offer programmes on a range of subjects that reflect Scottish culture.

Likewise, BBC Radio Scotland must broadcast content and music of particular relevance to Scottish listeners, and local community programmes in the evenings.

And we’ve added new protections for Gaelic speakers, with guaranteed amounts of programmes in Gaelic on BBC Two and BBC ALBA, as well as online. The website must also offer dedicated coverage of Scottish sports.

We’ll also review the BBC’s plans for a new Scotland channel, to ensure they support the wider media landscape. Above all, we’ll keep listening to Scottish viewers and listeners to understand their priorities.

And we’ll work with all the broadcasters to uphold the high standards that their audiences expect.

Glenn Preston, Scotland director, Ofcom