BBC Scotland’s network programming ‘ahead of schedule’

BBC Scotland is ahead of schedule as far as plans to increase its contribution to the Corporation’s UK-wide TV network, according to its director, Ken MacQuarrie.

Speaking at BBC Scotland’s HQ at Pacific Quay, Glasgow, earlier today, MacQuarrie said that, by the end of this month, BBC Scotland will have been responsible for six per cent of the programmes broadcast on the network this year; at least 243 hours.

In a speech given just over two years ago by BBC director-general, Mark Thompson, the target was at least 17 per cent for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland by 2016, with Scotland’s share to be nine per cent.

But while unable to say how quickly the nine per cent target might be reached, MacQuarrie said that six per cent was ahead of plans: “We expect to be contributing six per cent of the BBC’s network output by the end of this year – which will put us almost where we said we’d hoped to be by 2012, so that’s hugely encouraging. We’d hope to maintain that sort of contribution in 2010 but it’s too early to say how soon we’d increase that to the target set for 2016.”

Two years ago, BBC Scotland contributed just 3.3 per cent output to the network, and it was 3.7 per cent last year.

It was against a backdrop of such low figures that First Minister, Alex Salmond, set up the Scottish Broadcasting Commission in August two years ago, to look at the future of broadcasting in Scotland.

Among other figures shared by MacQuarrie, BBC Scotland has a staff of 1250 and annual turnover of around £150 million. It produces 1000 hours of TV output each year to Scotland-only audiences and 10,300 hours each year of radio output.

Its website attracts three million unique users each week.