THE BBC has put back the launch of its new dedicated TV channel for Scotland until next year.

Viewers can expect to begin seeing new content from February 2019, instead of from the autumn of 2018.

Explaining the delay, BBC Scotland director Donalda MacKinnon said “coming on air early in the new year was the best option for us, audiences and our suppliers”.

Broadcasting regulator Ofcom has given “provisional” approval for the channel. It is due to end a consultation period this week and then issue its final report later in the year.

MacKinnon said in an email to staff: “In deciding when to launch, we looked at a number of options, including late autumn and around Christmas time, but we concluded that coming on air early in the new year is the best option for us, audiences and our suppliers.

“We took into consideration programme development and production time and audience trends during holidays – especially around the crowded marketing period at Christmas.

“Getting the channel right is preferable to simply getting it on air as quickly as possible and having some additional time after final approval should be beneficial.

“When we get the final decision from Ofcom, I would hope to be able to share more of our progress with you, including some more detail on our new commissions.

“In the meantime, I’d like to thank you all for your enthusiasm, support and patience.

“This is an exciting time for us in the broadcast sector and I look forward to continuing to work with you to deliver a channel that our audiences will take pride in, value and enjoy.”

The new channel is expected to have a budget of more than £32 million per year and programmes are set to run from 7pm until midnight each day, including repeats and archive items.