BBC Scotland suffers plunge in viewing figures
BBC Scotland is facing new questions over the quality of its content as new data shows viewing figures have fallen sharply.
Only 13% of the population watched the channel each week in 2022, down by five percentage points year-on-year. The audience has fallen by about 38% between 2020 and last year, according to the broadcaster’s annual report.
The smaller audiences mean the costs of the channel per user is considerably higher than the London-produced channels.
It cost 19p per user hour to produce BBC Scotland last year and 31p per user hour to deliver BBC Alba. This compares with 9p per user hour for BBC1 and 7p per user hour for the BBC News channel.
News programme The Nine remains a niche option. On Monday last week it attracted just over 12,000 viewers, about 1% of those watching television at the time, while the STV News at Six that evening was watched by 321,000 viewers, an audience share of 33%.
One BBC Scotland insider told The Times: “There are nights when the programme barely registers as having any sort of audience at all.”
Media academic and a former BBC Scotland editor Professor Tim Luckhurst, told the newspaper: “At a time when the BBC is under enormous pressure to maximise value for the licence fee payer, the BBC Scotland channel is looking increasingly like a dangerous waste of money.
Figures released on salaries showed that Kirsty Wark, the Newsnight presenter and occasional BBC Scotland contributor, was paid £280,000 last year for 105 days. Sarah Smith, the former BBC Scotland Editor, was paid a £220,000 salary in her current role as BBC North America Editor.
A BBC spokesman said: “Like all linear channels, BBC Scotland has experienced a decline in reach but continues to reach more than one in eight individuals in Scotland each week.
“The channel is also a significant part of the BBC’s support for the wider creative sector in Scotland. The BBC in Scotland works with around 80 independent production companies, across TV, radio and online, and many of those businesses regularly produce programmes for the channel.
“Across all genres and platforms, our content successfully reflects Scotland back to itself while the broad range of news content across all our platforms informs and engages audiences across the country.”
One viewer, Richard Waugh, said Alba only gets football by “sticking football on it”, adding that it was a “huge waste of money and a vanity project”.