Viewers switching off
BBC Scotland channel in view as figures slump
Presenters Martin Geissler and Rebecca Curran
BBC Scotland’s digital channel is likely to draw close attention of the corporation’s cost-cutters after figures revealed low viewing figures.
A week after the director of BBC Scotland Donalda MacKinnon announced she was retiring, the £32m channel is at times achieving only 1% of the launch audience for its flagship “The Nine” news bulletin, according to figures obtained by The Sunday Times.
During December, when the general election campaign was under way, only 8,000 people on average tuned in.
Ms MacKinnon will leave Pacific Quay after four years in charge which included the creation of a Scotland-only channel. She said she had an exit strategy in mind when she accepted the job.
The Nine was a response to years of campaigning for a so-called Scottish Six that would present the global news from Glasgow. Its creation was broadly supported by nationalists.
The programme has a 15-strong team of presenters and reporters, including James Cook who returned to Scotland after a stint in Los Angeles. It is presented by Rebecca Curran and Martin Geissler from Monday to Thursday and Laura Miller and John Beattie on Fridays. Laura McGhie and Amy Irons are the sports presenters.
Critics say that scheduling the hour-long programme against popular dramas and after 60 minutes of news from London and Glasgow at 6pm made it more difficult to attract a large audience.
Nevertheless, the low viewing figures will raise questions over the future of the channel at a time when the BBC is under pressure to maintain its £4bn revenue-raising licence fee and cuts of £800m are being imposed across the corporation.
STV took a £4.6 million hit following its failed STV2 channel which closed in June 2018.