A FORMER senior BBC journalist has said the broadcaster's new director general should scrap its Scottish digital channel after figures showed its audience has slipped by 45% since its launch. 

The channel began broadcasting in February 2019 but has struggled with low ratings and criticism over the number of repeats shown since.

Now, following Tony Hall's announcement that he is to resign as boss of the broadcaster, media expert professor Tim Luckhurst has said his replacement should close "the white elephant" channel. 

Luckhurst said Hall's resignation had come as the corporation "is under intense pressure", pointing to the BBC's "poor relationship with the new Government" and increasing questions over the sustainability of the licence fee.

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He told the Scottish Daily Mail: "BBC Scotland faces unique pressures. It is losing its battle for news audiences to STV. It faces hostility from the SNP. Its new channel is a white elephant. Lord Hall's successor should close it."

The former Scotsman editor went on to say Hall's replacement "would feel able to drop" the channel as they would not be "bound by his commitment".

The BBC Scotland channel was announced in 2017 by Hall, who at the time said he knew audiences wanted the broadcaster to "better reflect their lives and better reflect modern Scotland".

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However just a few months after its launch, the channel's viewing figures were branded "deplorable" by Luckhurst. 

It emerged in June that 21 programmes had recorded no audience at all some days.

And by July the audience size for the channel's flagship news programme The Nine had fallen to as little as 2700 - translating to nearly a 0% viewership share.

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One programme, a quiz show titled WonderBall, saw its viewing numbers drop from 14,000 on its debut appearance to 1000 the following day.

STV is also now more popular than the BBC's Reporting Scotland news programme, with the former averaging at 390,000 over the public broadcaster's 380,000.

A spokesperson for BBC Scotland said the channel "continues to perform strongly and its viewing figures are in line with our projections and those of independent regulator Ofcom".

They went on: "Outside the five main channels, the new BBC Scotland channel has the highest reach of any digital channel in Scotland and its performance is ahead of the BBC’s expectations.

"Overall, the channel is adding a more socially diverse audience to the BBC portfolio and requests to view BBC Scotland programmes on the iPlayer have risen 125% to more than 62 million in 2019.

"The channel has also boosted the country’s creative sector with more than 70 independent companies supplying programming.

"There’s been very positive audience feedback to many titles including, the two-parter, Murder Trial, drama Guilt, factual series, Inside Central Station, and the one-off documentary, Being Gail Porter.'"