Page last updated at 10:07 GMT, Thursday, 26 June 2008 11:07 UK

Young people 'need TV choices'

By Andrew Black
Political reporter, BBC Scotland news website

Ask any broadcaster where their future challenges lie and they will probably all give the same answer - how to appeal to young people.

BBC news studio
Not all of the respondents were happy with standards in TV news

As traditional broadcasting audiences grow older, TV executives have been coming up with new ways to pull in this large, and often demanding, group.

This is a tough one, especially in areas such as news and current affairs, with the explosion of the internet.

To get a better handle on this task, the Scottish Broadcasting Commission - set up by First Minister Alex Salmond - asked for the views of young people on the subject.

And some of the results were surprising.

Through the Scottish Youth Parliament, 290 people aged between 14 and 25 were consulted.

About half of those were at university and the vast majority were in some form of education. The biggest group, 43%, was of 18 to 21-year-olds.

Most felt Scottish broadcasting was "informed, educated and entertained" - although both BBC Scotland and STV came in for a hammering on certain issues.

Usually, the only reason young people appear on television is because of binge-drinking or gang-orientated violence
Survey reply

They wanted more Scottish-specific programmes and documentaries and less reality TV - but one of the biggest concerns was their portrayal on television. Most said serious stories about young people were negative.

As expected, the survey respondents said the internet was a major source for entertainment, although most used television for this purpose.

More surprising perhaps, in this age of news websites updated almost to the second, was that 35% used newspapers to get their news "all the time" - more than any other medium. TV followed closely behind at 29%.

Comments to the survey were mixed. There were plaudits for dramas such as STV's Taggart and the BBC's Monarch of the Glen - but some described news bulletins as cheap-looking and too tabloid in their style.

"Generally, Scottish Broadcasting is of very poor standard," wrote one respondent.

"BBC One Scotland rarely differs from BBC One nationally and to offer us Reporting Scotland, with dreadfully poor news coverage, and River City. Not enthusing."

Another wrote: "STV is just a bit rubbish."

Actors Alastair Mackenzie and Richard Briers
Scottish programmes like Monarch of the Glen were praised

A less pessimistic offering read: "Scotland broadcasts many different types of shows which inform, educate and entertain."

But the clear area of concern was that most disagreed with the statement: "Young people are portrayed fairly on TV".

"Usually, the only reason young people appear on television is because of binge-drinking or gang-orientated violence," stated one reply.

"The news programmes are nine times out of 10 about negative issues anyway. It would be nice to see some more stories about the achievements of young people."

Another stated: "I feel that young people are made out to be bad and a pest in society and this is not fair as not all young people are bad, but the news says otherwise in my view."

In a second survey, of 252 children between six and 12-years-old, most wanted to watch more about Scotland, children's lives and their local communities on TV.

The vast majority - 72% - said they wanted a Scottish news programme aimed at them. A kind of Newsround Scotland, perhaps.

Blair Jenkins, chairman of the broadcasting commission, said young people wanted choices - and it was time to think "on-demand".

He added: "They live in an age where people can watch what they want, when they want and have the means and technology to do so.

"The concept of programme schedules, the watershed and terrestrial television will soon be redundant to many of them."

Speaking to young people is just the latest phase of the commission's work, before it reports to Scottish ministers.

The BBC and STV may well be hoping for a final verdict in line with one of the responses to the youth survey.

It said: "Scottish broadcasting is great".

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