THE BBC has moved to defend its new flagship Scottish news show after viewing figures plummeted to just 4000.

There are tensions at the £32 million BBC Scotland channel, with key presenters reportedly considering walking away from the The Nine.

According to the Sunday Times, insiders at the channel say there are fears that chief news correspondent James Cook and Martin Geissler, who fronts the news programme, could leave the channel.

“It’s a turkey”, said a BBC source. “You can’t have a channel that nobody watches. Journalists like their output to be watched and it won’t be long until some of the channel’s main talent head for the door.”

READ MORE: BBC Scotland bosses defend new channel after plummeting viewing figures

According to the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (Barb), 4000 viewers tuned in to The Nine on Tuesday, April 30. Numbers recovered slightly to 7000 the following day.

Reporting Scotland routinely attracts upwards of 300,000 viewers.

Alex Salmond’s controversial chat show on Kremlin-controlled broadcaster Russia Today, meanwhile, has pulled in around 7000 viewers, according to reports from September.

“There is a poisonous atmosphere in the newsroom,” said another BBC source. “Staff who get big audiences are being overlooked in favour of new inexperienced staff on the channel which nobody watches.

“This was a real opportunity missed to create a powerhouse newsroom with everyone working to the same purpose.”

Ian Blackford, the SNP’s Westminster leader, said the broadcaster may have to put more money into the station: “In order for the BBC Scotland channel to thrive and to realise its potential it needs to be both more accessible and to be far better funded. As well as being more properly resourced it needs to be on the second channel, on BBC Two.”

A BBC spokesman insisted that the channel had exceeded expectations since its launch.

“In the first 9 weeks, BBC Scotland has performed ahead of expectations. It’s both the biggest digital channel in Scotland (outwith the top five), reaching around a quarter (24%) of Scotland’s population each week, and is the most watched in its time slot with a share of 3.2%.

“We said from the outset that The Nine is in a highly competitive slot and regularly is up against either dramas or live sport so its audiences do fluctuate.

“That said The Nine has attracted an average weekly reach of a quarter of a million viewers on TV and reassuringly is also attracting an increase in younger audiences via social media with more than 250,000 engagements on Twitter since launch.”

The spokesman also had a dig at the Rupert Murdoch-owned Sunday Times: “All newsrooms, including the Sunday Times one, inevitably feature a variety of deeply-felt opinions so it’s no great surprise if we’re being accused of both spending too much and too little at the same time.”