Because the announcement of the new "BBC Scotland" channel was genuinely unexpected, I've been struggling to get my head around it and work out what I think. First of all, I find it hard to understand why some past supporters of a Scottish Six are now saying that this new package is somehow superior. (Those people are in the minority but they do exist.) No matter what happens from here, we can very safely say that the audience for the "Scottish Nine" will be a tiny fraction of what the Scottish Six would have attracted. The point of having this programme is not the sheer satisfaction of knowing that it exists - if it isn't watched, it's a complete waste of time. So without a doubt, this is an inferior consolation prize.
Beyond that, all I really have are a series of questions -
1) Will there be some sort of token content on the channel during the hours of the day when it is not properly on air? BBC Alba currently does that, and it's surely a necessary step in building up and retaining an audience. If this is to be a genuinely part-time channel, it will suffer from an enormous handicap.
2) Is this channel being set up to fail? In other words, will the BBC take direct responsibility for making sure people watch the channel by relentlessly promoting its content on BBC1, BBC2, BBC radio stations, and the BBC website? Or will it be ignored, thus sealing its fate as a minority backwater channel, and allowing the BBC hierarchy to use its "failure" as proof that there is no demand for Scottish-produced news or drama?
3) Will the diversion of Scottish programming from BBC2 help to build prestige and credibility for the new channel, or will the reverse happen? Will the audience figures for those programmes be allowed to tumble?
4) Will Pacific Quay embrace the channel as their flagship operation, or will they still regard scraps from the table on the network channels as being more important?
I'm sure there must be plenty of other questions, but those are the ones that immediately spring to mind.
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