THE BBC has been accused of failing to address a loss of trust among Scots which followed its coverage of the independence referendum.

The criticism came from the SNP in a submission to the regulator Ofcom, which is holding a consultation on the launch of a new BBC Scotland channel next year.

While giving a cautious welcome to the channel and the 80 jobs it will bring, the document said there were still concerns about the broadcaster’s impartiality almost four years after the independence vote.

The submission said: “The new channel’s success should be judged against the public purpose set out in the BBC’s Royal Charter which states the BBC must provide: ‘Impartial news and information to help people understand and engage with the world around them’.

“The BBC’s own audience council surveys demonstrate that trust in the BBC is lowest in Scotland. The BBC itself has admitted that its coverage of the 2014 referendum led to a loss of trust among a significant number of Scots. In effect, many people in Scotland do not feel the public purpose to deliver impartial news and information is always being met in Scotland.”

“Since the referendum nearly four years ago we have seen no evidence of BBC Scotland delivering on its promise to increase the ‘trust’ that it lost. Its own audience surveys two years after the referendum reflect this failure.”

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It was announced last week that the BBC’s new channel will start broadcasting in February next year after plans for an autumn launch were delayed. The channel was provisionally given the green light by Ofcom last month, with the full consultation process running until the end of last week.

The channel has been given an annual programming budget of around £32 million and will be on air from 7pm until midnight every day, with a flagship 9pm news show on weeknights. Although around half of the channel’s output is expected to be repeats, it has also promised to commission new programmes that “reflect Scottish life”, including original comedy and drama.

The SNP’s submission to Ofcom went on to say the new channel must address the issue of trust and that it was “vital Scottish audiences are well served, both by the BBC and the broadcasting sector in general”.

It went on: “We support the BBC’s view that the new channel ‘should give audiences the choice of something entirely Scottish that reflects all aspects of life in Scotland’ and we acknowledge that this is presently missing.

“The new channel’s hour-long news output must show new thinking that positively changes people’s perception of the BBC in Scotland. It must deliver a product which helps to regain ‘trust’ to the public service broadcaster.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Independence Convention said: “It is widely known that trust in the BBC has fallen since the 2014 referendum and it is the responsibility of the broadcaster to rebuild that trust where possible. Besides an increase in creative content, it is essential that the news gap is addressed as a priority, with greater scrutiny placed on the Westminster Government and how their actions affect Scotland.Broadcasting journalists should be better equipped with the resources to look at Scotland’s economy beyond the way it is framed by other media sources, many of which have an editorial stance against independence. Addressing this would go a long way towards rebuilding that trust.”

Ofcom is due to make a final decision on the future of the channel in July, but preliminary approval was given on the basis it was unlikely to crowd out the BBC’s competition in Scotland.

A day after the announcement of the delay, STV revealed it was cutting 59 jobs and closing its STV2 channel, citing concerns over the competition it faced from the new BBC channel.

Last week, former First Minister Alex Salmond said the BBC was his “blind spot” during the 2014 referendum campaign and that his successor Nicola Sturgeon “would not have such a blind spot next time round”.

He added: “Television during an election period is regulated. It is regulated to give parity in a referendum, and that was enforced during the European referendum. It didn’t happen in the Scottish referendum, and it should have happened – to give parity to both sides of the argument.”

A few days before the vote in September 2014, crowds of Yes campaigners gathered outside the BBC Scotland’s Glasgow HQ to protest about its referendum coverage.

A spokesman for BBC Scotland said: “We consider carefully all the feedback we receive as part of our ongoing process of developing the services we offer to our audiences. Since the 2014 referendum, which we reported fairly and accurately, in line with our editorial policies, we have continued to provide an in-depth and high quality news service.

“Two reports from the BBC Trust, in 2015 and 2016, found audiences in Scotland had a high regard for the quality and trustworthiness of BBC Scotland news and we will continue to build on that foundation, particularly where particular sections of the audience have voiced concerns they may have over aspects of impartiality.”