In February the BBC is launching a dedicated Scottish television channel with a new daily hour-long news programme and bespoke drama, arts and entertainment coverage.
The new channel, called BBC Scotland, will have a prominent slot on Electronic Programme Guides (EPGs) in Scotland, and will be available across the UK via BBC iPlayer.
Here’s everything you need to know about it…
When does BBC Scotland launch?
BBC Scotland will officially launch on Sunday 24th February.
How can I watch BBC Scotland? Will it replace existing channels?
The new channel’s place on the EPG will be “prominent” in Scotland. It will show on channel 9 on Freeview and YouView, 115 on Sky, 106 on Freesat and 108 on Virgin Media north of the border. To watch in HD on Freeview and YouView, head to 115. Full listings will be available in the Scottish edition of the print Radio Times. It will be available on iPlayer in the rest of the country.
Will Scottish viewers still have access to BBC4?
For Freeview and YouView users, BBC Scotland’s new home on channel 9 is in a spot currently occupied by BBC4. But fear not, Scottish BBC4 fans will still have access to the channel – on 18th February it moved to its new home on channel 82.
The switch may happen automatically, but some viewers may need to retune their TVs to get the new line-up.
What sort of programmes will BBC Scotland show?
The plan is to air 50% original content and 50% repeats. Each weeknight there will be an hour-long news programme at 9pm featuring national, UK and international news. Called The Nine, it will be anchored from Scotland by presenters Martin Geissler and Rebecca Curran (pictured).
Existing BBC Scotland TV programmes will be showcased on the channel including Scottish drama River City which will feature each Monday night at 10pm and will continue to keep its 8pm Tuesday evening slot on BBC1 Scotland. The new channel will also air existing shows like police comedy Scot Squad and will premiere the final series of Scottish sitcom Still Game (which will air later in the year on BBC1).
Other programmes include an eight-part documentary series The Children’s Hospital, about The Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital (below), and A View from The Terrace, a weekly sideways glance at Scottish football adapted from the cult fan-led podcast The Terrace. There will also be a music series – Emeli Sandé’s Street Symphony – which will see the singer-songwriter travelling across Scotland and recruiting her favourite buskers for a concert with an entire orchestra.
The first drama commission is Guilt – a new four-part series starting Scottish actors Mark Bonnar (Catastrophe, Line Of Duty and Unforgotten, pictured) and Jamie Sives (Chernobyl, Frontier, Game Of Thrones). They play brothers Max (Bonnar) and Jake (Sives) who, while driving home from a wedding together one night, accidentally run over and kill an old man on a darkened street. After making the panicked decision to cover their tracks, the brothers have to face the consequences of their crime.
How will programmes on BBC Scotland be distinctively Scottish?
The flagship news programme – The Nine – will be at the heart of the schedules and will report regional, national and international news through a Scottish perspective. Rebecca and Martin will co-present Monday-Thursday while Laura Miller and John Beattie will present the news hour each Friday.
Weekend coverage comprises a 15-minute bulletin on Saturday evenings at 7pm followed by a 45-minute review programme presented by Fiona Stalker and Nick Sheridan. On Sundays, the 15-minute 7pm bulletin will be presented by Lucy Whyte. The programme will have a distinct social media presence and audiences will be able to access the best of The Nine on digital platforms.
Other programmes include The People’s News – where topical events will be presented through the eyes of people from across Scotland who “dial in” each week. There will also be a Modern Scotland documentary strand and bespoke Scottish arts coverage, with Edinburgh’s globally renowned summer arts festivals one area of strength.
What hours will BBC Scotland be on air?
The channel will be live every day, broadcasting a total of 1,825 hours each year including more than 900 hours of original content.
BBC Scotland’s core hours will be 7pm until midnight. Between 12 noon and 7pm the channel will show BBC2 content alongside up to 150 hours per year of BBC Scotland content such as coverage of First Minister’s Question Time and sporting and music events.
What is BBC Scotland’s budget?
The channel has a total annual programming budget of £32m and will replace the Scottish programmes currently shown on BBC2 Scotland. Its additional £40m comes from central BBC funding with the money split between TV services specifically for audiences in Scotland and additional network programming made in Scotland for audiences across the UK and beyond.
Can I watch BBC Scotland from England?
Yes. The BBC says it will be available in both High Definition (HD) and Standard Definition (SD) via Freeview, YouView, Freesat, Sky and Virgin Media (on Freeview, the channel will be available in HD between 7pm and midnight only). The channel and its content will also be available on the BBC iPlayer.
Why is BBC Scotland launching now?
The decision to launch the channel came after much discussion about the quality and range of BBC programming and spending in Scotland. Just over half of the estimated £320m raised from Scottish licence fee payers is spent in the country, the lowest proportion among the four nations of the United Kingdom.
The BBC anticipates that at the end of the first financial year in which the channel has been operating, the accounts will show that around 80% of the licence fee collected in Scotland will have been spent there.
For many years activists in Scotland have demanded a dedicated news bulletin for the country with many believing that either a Scottish Newsnight would be a solution or a 6pm bulletin – the so-called “Scottish Six”.