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BBC Scotland TV: Ofcom consults over new plans for the channel

Ofcom has invited stakeholders to comment on the BBC's proposals for its new Scotland TV channel.

It is part of the regulator's new role over the BBC, in which it must examine the proposal, identifying any possible adverse effects on competition and deciding whether they are justified in light of the potential public value which the proposed new channel may deliver.

In a change to its original announcement about the channel, the BBC says it wants to be able to start the channel at midday if sports or other events require it to launch earlier than the originally proposed launch time of 7pm. A simulcast of BBC Two would be broadcast around these events until regular programming started at 7pm.

An hour-long news programme for Scotland, covering UK and international news at 9pm would form the centrepiece of the new channel.

BBC Two Scotland would close as a standalone service, with no opt-outs or continuity for Scotland, when the BBC Scotland channel launches. BBC Two Scotland daytime opt-outs including Politics Scotland, which covers First Ministers Questions, would move to BBC Scotland TV.  Controversially, the BBC says the channel will only be broadcast in standard definition on traditional TV platforms when it is due to launch in late 2018. On satellite, it will take the broadcast capacity currently taken by BBC Two Scotland. HD distribution would only be available via the iPlayer, although the BBC  says it will keep the availability of the channel in HD on TV platforms under review in light of further development of its "pan UK HD strategy".

As a result of the BBC Scotland channel launching, the BBC plans to launch the channel in BBC Four's slot in Scotland, meaning that Freeview viewers might see BBC Four SD disappear to the 90s, with similar moves on Sky, Virgin Media and Freesat north of the border.

Source: BBC submission to Ofcom

The full details are outlined in a BBC Public Interest Test document to Ofcom.

Ofcom will now review the proposals in conjunction with responses from the public. It says it will "first carry out an initial assessment, which we must complete within six weeks, before deciding whether to undertake a more detailed review. We will complete our work as promptly and efficiently as possible, and no later than June 2018." Further details can be found on Ofcom's website.