BBC Scotland witnessing drift of news audience to the web

ONE in three Scots watch BBC Scotland’s flagship news programme, Reporting Scotland, at least once a week; in five years’ time, it is expected the number will be one in five.

But Atholl Duncan, head of news and current affairs at BBC Scotland, has the consolation of a massive growth in the number of people getting their news from the BBC Scotland website.

Speaking at the Scottish Society of Editors’ conference on Friday, Duncan said that, while 80 per cent of the UK population will “consume BBC news at some point in the week”, programmes such as Reporting Scotland can no longer be considered “king” of news scheduling.

“It is continuous news, now,” he said. “During Reporting Scotland’s heyday, a bottle of champagne was opened every time we hit the one million viewers mark – and that used to happen quite often. Now, if we get half a million, we are happy. Also, more than 60 per cent of Reporting Scotland viewers are aged 55 and over.

“But, unique visitors to the BBC Scotland website has increased from 800,000 last year, to 1.4 million this year. And over 50 per cent of our online audience is younger than 40.”

He added: “Reporting Scotland is not alone. A downward trend in viewing numbers is being experienced by all TV news programmes, because of multi-channel and the ‘digital revolution’.”