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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 March 2008, 19:21 GMT

Scottish TV 'lacking imagination'

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BBC Scotland defended the "quality and range" of its programmes

Television in Scotland lacks ambition and imagination, according to a report about the state of broadcasting.

The Scottish Broadcasting Commission's (SBC) interim report said programmes were failing to present the full range of Scottish culture, heritage and creativity across the country.

It was also critical of the lack of Scottish content on national schedules despite a high public demand for it.

Broadcasters are not meeting the aspirations of viewers, it added.

The SBC surveyed more than 1,000 Scots as part of its focus on the cultural importance of Scottish broadcasting.

Free TV sport

It found 82% would support the creation of a new Scottish digital channel.

A further 84% said competitive matches played by Scotland's national football team should be shown live on free terrestrial television.

The issue was raised earlier in the year by First Minister Alex Salmond, who said it was "extraordinary and frankly unacceptable" that Scotland's qualifying campaign for the 2010 World Cup would not be shown on terrestrial channels.

In its report the commission recommended that high profile sports games were broadcast for free more widely.

Blair Jenkins, chair of the commission, said that there was a demand for greater Scottish content, which he claimed only made up 5% of the BBC1 and BBC2 schedules in Scotland.

STV's Scottish programmes currently accounted for 6.5% of their schedules but its obligation to produce four hours per week of non-news Scottish programming will reduce to three from the start of 2009.

People didn't feel the full diversity of life in Scotland was being reflected in their programmes
Blair Jenkins
Chairman commission

"People are expressing a desire and appetite to see more programming of documentaries, history and heritage programmes," added Mr Jenkins.

"There is also a sense of disappointment in how well broadcasters are reflecting or celebrating Scottish culture, expressed as a lack of ambition or a lack of aspiration.

"People didn't feel the full diversity of life in Scotland was being reflected in their programmes."

Donalda MacKinnon, BBC Scotland's head of programmes, denied accusations that programming lacked ambition and imagination.

"The report is very selective in its observations and we believe does not give a fair reflection of the quality and range of production from in-house BBC Scotland teams and our partners in the independent sector," she added.

BBC Scotland does bid for the football rights when possible, she said.

"But it is an increasingly aggressive marketplace and we have to balance the wishes of all our audiences with the amount of money we spend on football rights."

The commission's full report is due to be published at the end of the summer.

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