BBC should broadcast Scottish Six News Programme, Say MPs

Tuesday, Aug 02, 2016

The BBC should set up its own hour-long news programme to replace both Reporting Scotland and the Six O’Clock News in Scotland, a Westminster committee has said.

The Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee said the “Scottish Six” programme should be edited, presented and broadcast from Scotland.

Its recommendation, contained in a report on the proposals set out in the UK Government’s BBC White Paper, was welcomed by the SNP.

The so-called Scottish Six has been a long-running controversy within Scottish broadcasting, with previous proposals ruled out in 2006.

The proposals are in response to criticism that the BBC’s main Six O’Clock News programme often features stories on devolved areas such as education and health which are not relevant to Scottish audiences.

The BBC has already tested three different “Scottish Six” pilots – a tweaked version of the current programme, a new programme edited and broadcast from Scotland, and a hybrid show, crossing to a London studio for UK and international news.

 The committee’s report said the hybrid version was a “needless extravagance” and could look patronising to a Scottish audience.

Instead it recommended the second option – a news programme anchored in Scotland with a running order of Scottish, UK and international stories chosen on news merit.

Acting committee chairman Damian Collins said: “We believe that it is perfectly reasonable for editorial decisions on the running order for television news broadcasts in Scotland to be made in Scotland, and broadcast from Scotland, as they are already for radio.”

Welcoming the recommendation for a “Scottish Six”, John Nicolson MP, SNP culture and media spokesman, said: “I believe that a broader remit for BBC Scotland television news would drive up standards, increase job opportunities for journalists here in Scotland, and build audiences.”

Scottish Conservative culture spokesman Jackson Carlaw said: “I fully expect the SNP to push for as much as it can with the Scottish Six proposals.

“But we must remember that many people are very happy with the current set-up, and would rather watch UK-wide news covering the whole world, than an extension of the current Reporting Scotland.

“So the quality of any production will be absolutely key if a Scottish Six is to be a success; it should focus directly on hard news and not trivia.”

Scottish Labour Westminster spokesman Ian Murray said any changes “must balance the need for more in-depth Scottish news coverage with the continuing demand for relevant news stories from the rest of the UK and internationally”.


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