New BBC channel to feature Scottish version of Question Time

BBC Pacific Quay, Glasgow. Picture: John Devlin
BBC Pacific Quay, Glasgow. Picture: John Devlin
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The new BBC Scotland channel will include its own Question Time-style debate show, MPs have been told.

The Scottish Affairs Committee heard plans are “on track” to launch the channel on February 24 next year, with a nightly hour-long news programme and shows such as Still Game to feature on the channel.

BBC Scotland head of news Gary Smith said a political debate show is also being commissioned.

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He told the Westminster committee: “This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and it’s fantastic to have the opportunity to do this now.

“It’ll be a really significant addition to what we can offer on TV as a proper, in-depth political debate programme.

“We haven’t quite worked out the format yet but there will clearly be some kind of panel and some kind of audience and a presenter, and we’ll be able to look at all the issues of the day but from a Scottish perspective.

“In shorthand terms it’s kind of like our own BBC Scotland version of the Question Time format.”

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Donalda MacKinnon, BBC Scotland director, said the outcome of an ongoing consultation on how licence fees for over 75s are paid could impact the channel and all BBC services.

Asked by committee chairman Pete Wishart if there were any plans to deal with a “potential hit” to allocated funds, Ms MacKinnon said: “I think we all have to plan with a view to there being a future and certainly launching a new service I wouldn’t be advocating we do anything other than that.

“The BBC will have to look across all its services and ours would potentially be part of that landscape.”

Asked what roles the new channel will have, Ms MacKinnon said: “I think it will have a number of roles, culturally, politically and economically, and I suppose critically the most important role we will have will be to serve audiences better.”