Nicola Sturgeon calls for Scotland to have new BBC TV channel as part of 'radical' reform

First Minister also wants second radio channel and Scottish iPlayer section

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The Independent Online

The Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has called for "radical" reform of the BBC in Scotland, including a new BBC Scotland television channel.

Ms Sturgeon also demanded a second channel for BBC Radio Scotland and a Scottish section on iPlayer. She claimed that Scottish-based editors should be given more power in UK reporting of Scottish issues.

Delivering a lecture at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, she called for broadcasting in Scotland to be made a matter for the Scottish Parliament and said it was "arrant nonsense" to present that as an attempt by the SNP to control the BBC.

She noted that less than half of Scots feel the BBC "accurately reflects their lives" and claimed that a BBC Scotland channel would "secure" the future of the country's independent television sector.

She said: "The UK has changed dramatically since devolution but broadcasters are still catching up with its consequences."

While she acknowledged that the number of commissions from BBC Scotland was "far above" the level of 2006, she said progress remained "slow". By contrast, commercial channel STV had led the way in setting up a late night show dedicated to Scottish affairs.

Although she stopped short of accusing the BBC of "institutional bias" in its reporting of the  independence referendum, she claimed its coverage "could seem partial and, at times, pejorative". She praised BBC Scotland for having "some of the finest journalists in the land" but said the broadcaster had been "undermined" by "lapses" elsewhere.

Ms Sturgeon also complained about gender bias in the media, saying she felt "angry" at "sexist media portrayals of public figures" because of their impact on young women. She noted that women in sport "receive far less coverage" than male counterparts and that "twice as many men as women" feature on TV. "None of that is acceptable in 2015," she said.

A BBC spokesperson said: "Services for smaller audiences clearly cost more to provide, and that is why we spend more in the Nations per head than the rest of the UK – that’s the right thing to do. We recognise that there is audience demand for greater representation and portrayal of Scottish audiences on all BBC services and we want this to be part of our response in Charter Review.

"The BBC’s funding has now been set for the next five years and this will mean cuts across the BBC – we will have to balance our investment on pan-UK services with dedicated services in the Nations. We will aim to protect spending in the Nations so that content investment is cut less than in other parts of the BBC. We look forward to working with the Scottish Government on these issues, and to consulting with licence fee payers in Scotland about how they would like to see their licence fee spent."

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