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BBC Scotland channel overcomes final regulatory hurdle


Ofcom has given its final approval for the new BBC Scotland TV channel, which can now launch in early 2019.

It follows an earlier, provisional approval for the new channel, which will broadcast on all digital TV platforms across Scotland from February 2019.

In making its decision, Ofcom said it agreed with the BBC that "the proposed channel will broaden the options available to viewers in Scotland, provide a greater Scottish focus in its news coverage and deliver more content designed to reflect the lives of people in Scotland." Overall benefits are thought to outweigh any negative impacts.

The new TV channel will operate a core schedule between 7pm and midnight, and include a news hour at 9pm on weeknights. Programmes on the channel will include those previously shown on BBC Two Scotland, which will be closed down and replaced by the main network feed of BBC Two from London.

Between midnight and 7pm, the channel will simulcast BBC Two, but with variations for sports events and political coverage that was previously on BBC Two. Such opt-outs would be limited to 150 hours a year.

The channel will receive a budget of £32 million.

BBC Scotland is due to take BBC Four's main channel position on all platforms in Scotland, with BBC Four moving down the channel list. There are no changes to BBC Four in the rest of the UK.

There will also be an HD version of the channel, which will be available on all platforms. However, the Freeview HD version will be limited to 7pm-midnight, with CBBC HD being closed at 7pm in Scotland - the remaining two hours of CBBC will be SD only in Scotland on Freeview. The full BBC Scotland schedule prior to 7pm will be SD only on Freeview, according to current plans.

In total, the BBC will invest £40m in BBC Scotland, with funds between TV services specifically for audiences in Scotland and additional network programming made in Scotland for audiences across the UK and beyond.  And £4 million is to be spent on a new design and engineering hub at BBC Scotland in Glasgow.  The new facility will join the existing hubs in London and Salford.

Tony Hall, BBC Director-General said: 
“Ofcom giving the green light for the new channel is great news. The new service has huge potential and I’m excited about what it can achieve. But it’s not the only good news today. I am delighted that we are also investing £4 million to create a new digital hub in Glasgow - a forward looking city that has real vibrancy and energy. It’s the perfect location.”

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