The broadcast regulator Ofcom has said it will assess plans for a BBC Scotland channel over fears it could crowd out local media.
In a letter to the BBC published by Ofcom today, the regulator shared its views on the proposed channel following its initial assessment.
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It said the BBC’s proposal for the channel, which includes plans for a news hour every weekday at 9pm, could have “adverse impacts on fair and effective competition”.
In the letter, Ofcom said: “We recognise that the BBC’s proposal may result in a number of positive outcomes for audiences in Scotland.
“The new channel may enhance public value, and encourage competition, by offering more choice, stimulating demand, or promoting innovation.
“However, the BBC’s proposal also has the potential to harm fair and effective competition.”
The regulator said there was potential for the broadcaster to crowd out commercial broadcasters like STV as well as Scottish print and online publications.
Ofcom also said the BBC could have described in greater detail “the nature of the BBC’s investment in news programming on the new BBC Scotland channel, and on the BBC’s online news offering, including the role that will be played by the 80 additional journalism posts the BBC is creating”.
BBC Scotland will have a total programming budget of £32m per year according to the letter.
The corporation revealed its plans for the Scotland channel back in February 2017.
BBC Scotland would take the slot occupied by BBC Four if plans are green-lit.
According to the letter, Ofcom spoke with 17 stakeholders about the BBC’s plan. Some welcomed the proposal but others questioned whether the channel had the funds to offer a “quality service”.
Other stakeholders worried about the channel’s impact on the local media sector.
A BBC spokesperson told BBC News: “We welcome Ofcom’s decision to scrutinise the proposal for the new channel and we look forward to contributing to the consultation exercise.”
Ofcom will publish its final decision on whether or not to give BBC Scotland the go ahead on 11 July 2018.