BBC Scotland bosses have defended their new channel after audiences for one edition of flagship news show The Nine dropped to just under 9000.

According to the Sunday Mail, viewing figures this month have ranged from a high of 36000 on April 4 to just 8980 on the first day of the Clutha disaster inquiry on April 8.

The channel’s quiz show, WonderBall, recorded figures as low as 2760.

Former BBC producer and ­editor Tim ­Luckhurst told the paper the figures were “deeply troubling”.

“To be spending this money on this channel and these shows at a time when ­network television and radio is struggling for money is a grave injustice to licence-payers.

“There was never any evidence of audience demand for this new channel. It’s diverting scarce resources into a bottomless pit,” he said.

A BBC spokesman hit back at the hack-turned-boffin: “Across the first four weeks, the channel had a share of 3.5 per cent during its core transmission hours from 7pm to midnight.

“The channel has also reached more than one in four of all ­audiences in Scotland per week during its first month, ­putting it ahead of all other digital channels outwith the top five.

“Output has been ­complemented by iPlayer ­exclusives too and we are very encouraged by the start the channel has made.

“Our long-term aim is to ­establish a channel that ­consistently delivers relevant and engaging content for our audiences. The feedback we’ve had so far has been very positive.”

Meanwhile, the former head of BBC television news singled out Scottish journalist Laura Bicker in an attack on his old employer.

He said the corporation’s audience targets which require “users to click on its content” had edged the BBC towards stories “like cuddly animals born in foreign zoos and the escapades of Instagram celebrities”.

Writing in the Sunday Times, he said: “Senior figures in news maintain this is essential to engage younger audiences and casual viewers.

“But some of the nonsense put onto social media by BBC correspondents — with a transparent hunger for likes and retweets — puts at risk the corporation’s authority.

“I shuddered at the Seoul correspondent’s account of the historic meeting between the leaders of North and South Korea in which she said she was ‘totes emosh’ about the pictures being transmitted.”

Bickers had tweeted: “Ok so the leaders of the two Koreas are holding hands while they watch an emotional montage of their day. All part of the farewell ceremony. It’s all getting a bit totes emosh”.

In his article Mosey also warned that the BBC was “at risk of being eaten” after figures revealed that 882,198 television licences were cancelled last year, up from 860,192 the previous year.

Streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon don’t require a license.