WHAT to make of the outline programme schedule for the new TV channel, BBC Scotland?

Well one thing’s apparent. BBC Scotland is making a serious pitch for the attention of Scottish youth and for a lightness of touch. Its new commissioning chief Steve Carson says two pillars of the new channel, launching in February, will be “talking and laughing” – which certainly makes a change from dark miserablism.

But will talk and laughter be enough to make 20 and 30- somethings cough up for a licence fee, because currently lots of them don’t. Unless the new channel looks better value than Netflix or Amazon Prime, a schedule of airy happiness might fail to attract younger viewers yet alienate serious old sausages who don’t like their world view served up with relentless cheeriness.

New boss Carson is a cause for optimism. He’s not Scottish but is a Celt with experience of working in England and Europe. He was educated in Northern Ireland and Manchester University, worked as a producer/director on current affairs programmes like Newsnight, Spotlight and Panorama, ran an independent production company, won awards from the Royal Television Society and its Irish equivalent, was Director of Programmes at RTÉ, head of content production at BBC Northern Ireland and vice-president of the European Broadcasting Union’s television committee.

READ MORE: Why the BBC Question Time editor needs to give the SNP answers

This is a very strong CV. Since many of the old bosses at Pacific Quay have also departed, Carson should be able to create a new vision and offer real leadership. He said recently: “There will be freedom to experiment, and freedom to fail.”

Hooray. He also said: “It is key that we go outside Glasgow for our programmes.” Again hooray.

But this reminds me of something a veteran BBC boss once told me. “We like diversity, as long as people from different backgrounds think the same as us.”

Talented individuals were hired by BBC Scotland before the indyref but found themselves thwarted by lack of real cash, institutional wariness and an unwillingness to think creatively about that elephant in the room – the highly contested constitutional future of Scotland.

The new channel’s documentary about the 2014 indyref suggests the poisoned chalice will be supped this time and the very even-handed Allan Little has made a documentary series on the way lives have changed through 20 years of the Scottish Parliament. Scottish rapper and award-winning author Darren McGarvey has a documentary series “taking an alternative tour of Scotland”. This is all grand.

The National:

A robust weekly Scottish Question Time programme should allow our current political predicament to be properly debated and analysed at long last. Of course, a lot hinges on whether BBC Scotland does more than simply tartanise the present, tired UK format.

One aspect of the format that needs a complete rethink is bussing in naysayers to achieve “balance” – I’d say just stop this. A genuinely Yes-leaning venue like Dundee can be followed by a No-leaning venue like Kelso. Authenticity is more important for the new BBC Scotland than achieving artificial “balance” that produces a pointless screaming match or a dreary sameness.

READ MORE: Independence referendum series on BBC Scotland’s new channel

It would also be great if BBC Scotland axed the UK ban on local places raising important local issues.

Meanwhile, I’ve heard there’s a commissioning edict going around PQ – no history. Carson may feel Scottish history is already “done” elsewhere (though Yes-voting Scots swither before watching anything fronted by Neil Oliver) and that history switches off young viewers.

But Scotland’s in a critical stage of its development and desperately needs the perspective on the future that arises from a robust unravelling of our complex and contested past. BBC1 is replete with royalty-focused versions of English history, Eire has ensured that generations of Irish people have had oodles of their own history, language and culture, but Scotland still sits betwixt and between.

There are ways to tackle history and culture differently and I hope the new channel will take them – it could explore our Scots linguistic heritage, for example, with a Jackanory style production of the fabulous children’s books written in Scots by James Robertson and Matthew Fitt.

If the Gruffalo in Scots is ever broadcast, for example, I’ll be watching – never mind the bairns. Carson says there won’t be a specific arts programme, but cultural content will be woven throughout the schedule. Emeli Sande’s busker series sounds like a great alternative way to explore the many cultures that exist at street level. I wonder if indy busker Alan Smart will get a look-in.

But the new channel could choose to do arts on a regular basis, too. Channel Four News has taken investigative journalism out of the doldrums by regularly replacing its final half hour with the popular and award-winning Unreported World slot. Why not do a regular opt-out to cover Scotland’s thriving Scottish literary, music and dance scene in prime time? The lesson of Netflix may be that younger folk want immersion in well-told stories, not just 30-second bursts of random colour.

Apparently the new channel is called BBC Scotland. You can see why – but it’s a bit non-new and a tad confusing. It will run every day from noon to midnight and 50% of content will be repeats – a function of the less-than-lavish budget. During the day it will broadcast programmes like Politics Scotland first shown on “The Station that used to be BBC Scotland”. Which is a bit weird.

This confusion may soon disappear – but since different teams will produce Reporting Scotland on BBC1 and the new hour-long news flagship, The Nine – there will be plenty of competition inside Pacific Quay – healthy or just destructive. Most of The Nine producers have been brought over from STV, which does at least promise a distinctive outlook. But big challenges face the new programme right from the start.

The Nine will hit the airwaves at the most divisive and contested moment in recent Scottish and British political history. Take the UK Government’s decision to scrap talks with the Scottish and Welsh governments the day after announcing them. Where would this feature on The Nine and how would it be covered? Will the new channel have its own correspondents – because if it doesn’t, new programmes will rapidly sound awfy similar to what’s gone before.

Of course, beyond the news offer, the prospect of Mark Bonnar and Jamie Sives starring in “pitch-black” thriller Guilt is great – though the series could arguably have been commissioned for BBC Scotland’s “old” slots on BBC 1 and BBC2. Even a brilliant schedule of individual programmes doth not a coherent channel make.

Folk need to know what they’ll get to stay tuned. Knowing that it’s all Scottish is not quite enough.

Obviously, for many independence supporters there are big worries that anything produced by BBC Scotland will fail to tackle Scotland’s long-standing political, historical and cultural democratic deficit and constructive criticism will be met with a prickly defensiveness. Given that the new Scottish channel is underfunded and was proposed by Director General Tony Hall simply to avoid giving viewers the Scottish Six, there may be weaknesses in the new offering just as there were weaknesses in coverage of the last indyref. I hope constructive criticism will be heard, not rapidly rebuffed.

In truth, the ambitious solution would have been to turn BBC1 into BBC Scotland – budget, schedule control and all. That would’ve given viewers a coherent well funded Scottish alternative channel to network BBC one, in the same way Radio Scotland is a Scottish alternative to Radios 1/2/3/4/5/6.

Within this massive constraint, though, the new channel can make progress or stand still. Which will it be? I sincerely hope my inner sceptic is proved wrong.