BBC Network target for Scotland set to be met ahead of schedule

A TARGET set by the BBC that programmes made in Scotland would comprise 8.6 per cent of its UK-wide, network spend in six years’ time looks set to be reached several years early.

The claim was made by Ian Small, head of public policy at BBC Scotland. At the Scottish conference of the Voice of the Listener & Viewer on Friday, he said the spend two years ago was 3.7 per cent, rising to 6.1 per cent at the end of last year – which was three years ahead of schedule.

He told “By the end of 2008, the total of BBC spend was 3.7 per cent in Scotland and by the end of last year, the end of December 2009, that had risen to 6.1 per cent and that’s the figure that the [governing body, the BBC Trust] had set for us to achieve by 2012.

“We reckon by the end of this year we will have gone further again, so we are continuing to build on that, moving towards what is an 8.6 per cent target, which the Trust has given to us, to achieve by 2016.

“We reckon we will achieve it well in advance of that. By the end of this year, we are still looking at that, (the figure) we know it will be in excess of 6.1 per cent so there is going to be a further build, but at this stage I would rather wait until we get to the end of the year then we would know exactly where we stand.”

At the same conference, held in Edinburgh, Donald Campbell, chief executive of MG Alba, said the “mood music” gave him cause for optimism that a review by the BBC Trust about Gaelic language TV channel, BBC Alba will soon conclude that it should be made available on Freeview and Cable TV. Currently, it is only available via satellite.

BBC Alba is operated by MG Alba and BBC Scotland, with the former estimated to be responsible for 50 per cent of commissions – as measured by hours – from Scotland’s independent TV production companies.

One of the reasons why BBC Alba has hitherto not appeared on Freeview is that some radio stations would need to make way, but improvements in ‘compression technology’ suggest that Freeview and the radio stations once considered at risk are now able to co-exist.