BBC Network Results Reveal Increased Scots Input

Scotland's share of television programming spend by the BBC increased by more than any other UK nation last year, the Corporation’s annual report has revealed.

Programmes made north of the Border comprised 7.4 per cent of the broadcaster’s UK-wide network spend in 2010, marking a 1.3 per cent year-on-year rise, according to findings published today.

However, the BBC has been urged to stamp out a “continued bias” towards English stories in network news in a bid to boost Scottish content.

The number of hours of television produced in Scotland for national UK network channels jumped from 243 to 611 between 2008/09 and 2009/10.

The hike in spend bucks a trend suffered by several other devolved nations and regions who witnessed a sharp decline. It also edges Scotland closer to the Corporation’s target of 8.6 per cent by 2016.

But in a separate review of the BBC's performance – carried out by Audience Council Scotland – the broadcaster is requested to reduce reporting of ‘devolved’ matters from an English perspective.

It comes against a backdrop of growing demands for Scottish news, with weekday national bulletin, Reporting Scotland, peaking at its highest number of viewers in eight years with 710,000 tuning in last December.

Says the Audience Council Review 2010/11: “In the Council’s view, the Executive research demonstrated audience demand for more Scottish news, and less coverage of ‘devolved’ matters as they affect England, as part of an offering of UK and international news.

“Members believed that responding to this would improve audience perceptions of how well the BBC reflects their local interests, and would help deliver the BBC’s democratic purpose in Scotland.”

Adds the report: “The ACS would like to see deeper analysis and a stronger sense of challenge in coverage of nations’ issues such as sectarianism or alcohol abuse (at nations and network level), and a response to the problem of finding the right balance of coverage between Scottish and England only-issues in news.

“Content research undertaken by the Trust demonstrates a continued bias on network news towards stories about England.”

Network spend by the BBC on programmes originating out of the English regions and Northern Ireland fell by 1.4 per cent and 0.4 per cent respectively, while Wales registerd a rise of 0.6 per cent.

In a statement issued by the BBC, BBC National Trustee for Scotland, Bill Matthews, is quoted, as saying: “It’s great to see that the BBC has made significant progress this year on delivering for Scottish audiences.

“Our Audience Council – made up of volunteers from across Scotland – recognises this in its independent review, with special mention for the healthy increase in Scottish programming on the main network channels.”