THE BBC’s director general yesterday admitted to MSPs it was time for the broadcaster to “look very carefully” at how it portrays Scotland as he raised the possibility of a “Scottish six” news programme.

Lord Hall also told members of Holyrood’s culture committee BBC Scotland should be handed greater control over budgets and decision-making for Scottish content as well as being given a “powerful voice” in determining what the broadcaster does as a whole.

The corporation’s boss was appearing before the committee as it takes evidence on the BBC’s charter renewal. The broadcaster was severely criticised for its coverage during the independence referendum amid concerns its reports were prejudiced against the Yes side.

Former political editor Nick Robinson was accused of bias after getting into an argument with the then first minister, Alex Salmond, over his coverage of a story about the possible relocation of the registered headquarters of Royal Bank of Scotland in the event of a Yes vote.

The report sparked hundreds of Yes campaigners to protest outside the broadcasters’ Glasgow headquarters. Salmond later denounced the BBC’s coverage of the referendum as a “disgrace”.

“We can do so much better in telling the stories of Scotland to Scottish audiences, but also from that to the whole of the UK and to the world,” Lord Hall told MSPs yesterday.

“One of the aims of this is to ensure we are representing and portraying all parts of the UK, but particularly Scotland, but also looking at how we can help sustain production in the nations. Now is the right time to say are we getting it right and do we need to change the balance? My own view is that this is the time now to make a change.”

Lord Hall said a review of news services – including the possibility of a Scottish six o’clock news – would report in the spring.

Broadcasting was excluded from a package of new powers agreed by an all-party commission in the wake of the independence referendum but for the first time SNP ministers have a formal role in the BBC’s charter renewal process which is currently ongoing. The current charter, effectively the constitution by which the corporation is run, expires at the end of this year.

Lord Hall, who appeared at the committee alongside BBC Scotland director Ken MacQuarrie, was also asked about what had happened to a plan from bosses in Scotland which set out options for a new Scottish television channel, a second radio station, greater online content and full devolution of commissioning powers and budgets.

MacQuarrie insisted these ideas were among “a number of options” which were discussed while Lord Hall said proposals had been shaped by funding. “This goes back to resources and how best can we use the resources that we have got,” the director-general said. “In that sense we put a priority on getting our news right, and also our commissioning and production base right.”

He told MSPs that Scotland will also get its own front page on the iPlayer, and on the news and sport websites. Pressed on greater autonomy for BBC Scotland, he went on:

“I want the director for Scotland to have more power to decide the services that the people of Scotland want for Scotland. I also want the director for Scotland to have a powerful voice in determining what the BBC does as a whole.”

The Scottish Government wants a new federal BBC which would allow BBC Scotland to control budgets and decision-making. It has also called for the creation of a new Scottish television channel and radio station.

Scotland’s Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop also appeared before the committee. Commenting on additional channels, she said: “It’s disappointing that that did not see the light of day in terms of the proposition put forward by the BBC when they went into the charter renewal process.”

She added: “It is not just about the number of channels, it is about the quality and the content too, and I think ... other countries seem to get better value in terms of the number of stations and channels than we do in Scotland.”

The National View: BBC must do better for Scots