THE BBC has announced that director general Tony Hall will quit later this year. He leaves his successor a host of problems and challenges.

I’d urge the new head of the broadcaster to focus on five key ambitions.

First, the BBC should properly represent the realities and complexities of devolution. Scotland continues to be under-represented on the network, particularly in news and current affairs output.

London-centric views still prevail in political news output, and Westminster’s third-largest party – the SNP – are too often unrepresented. The landmark King Report of 2008 identified key failings, arguing that the BBC was “preoccupied with the interests and experiences of London ... those who live elsewhere in the UK do not see their lives adequately reflected on the BBC”. These criticisms, 12 years later, still resonate. Indeed the broadcasting regulator Ofcom’s most recent annual report says that “the BBC should also better represent the whole of the UK”.

We believe that the BBC should broadcast a “Scottish Six”, as recommended by the House of Commons Culture and Media Select Committee. The Nine, which BBC Scotland subsequently launched, has been widely praised. I think the time has come to move it on to BBC One at 6pm.

READ MORE: SNP media spokesman calls for The Nine to switch to BBC One slot

Second, the BBC’s charter sets out its mission “to act in the public interest, serving all audiences through the provision of impartial, high-quality and distinctive output and services”. The need for impartiality and scrutiny has never been greater. We have a Prime Minister with a large majority who won power despite – or perhaps because of – his refusal to submit to scrutiny.

He refused to join other party leaders sitting down to be interviewed by Andrew Neil. Nor would he agree to an interview with Channel 4 News’s Krishnan Guru-Murthy. As David Dimbleby told Newsnight: “I weep when I see the PM only appear on Breakfast TV, refusing to appear on other programmes and refusing to let his Cabinet ministers go on The Today Programme. It’s a diminution of democratic responsibility.”

In the week when Scotland is forced out of the EU against our will, and in defiance of the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Welsh Senate and the Scottish Parliament, never have we needed rigorous journalism more. The BBC must not comply, even grudgingly, with a Downing Street policy of granting limited access. There are great journalists at the BBC and the new director-general must, with his or her management team, consider all options in order to deliver the scrutiny that the public in a functioning democracy needs and deserves.

Third, there has to be fair funding for BBC Scotland. There has been a historical underspend on programming by the BBC in Scotland. In 2015/16 the BBC raised more than £320 million from the licence fee in Scotland but only 54.6% of this revenue went on programming in Scotland.

The National: Tony Hall's successor must address give critical issuesTony Hall's successor must address give critical issues

The BBC Scotland channel is still in its infancy but it presents an opportunity for growth if it is properly funded. The channel has had some notable successes with news, documentaries and dramas but it is overly dependent on repeats and limited in air hours.

The channel cannot be allowed to fail due to a lack of investment – £32m is not enough for it to grow in ambition. RTE One in Ireland has an annual running cost of well over £100m.

The creation of a new BBC Scotland TV channel has focused debate over the transfer of broadcasting control to Scotland. The new channel should be recognised for its achievements as it makes the case for greater responsibility and budgetary control to be moved from BBC network to BBC Scotland.

With the BBC’s reputation under scrutiny, and viewer trust in Scotland lower than it is in the rest of the UK, bold action is needed by the new DG. What greater vote of confidence in Pacific Quay and indeed the people of Scotland’s creative talents than to invest serious funding in and to deliver more broadcasting autonomy to Scotland?

READ MORE: Stuart Cosgrove: The Nine is condemning BBC Scotland to failure

One of the grimmest aspects of Lord Hall’s legacy is the gender pay gap at the corporation. As a member of the House of Commons Culture and Media Select Committee, I proposed that BBC presenter pay should be published. The BBC management lobbied heavily to stop it happening. But I managed to persuade my colleagues across party lines to support the proposal, and it became government policy.

I thought publication would reveal grossly inflated salaries, a shortage of black and minority staff at top levels, and a huge gulf between the pay given to men and women. And so it transpired. The BBC claims it’s doing its best to rectify the situation. And yet it’s still using a team of lawyers to fight women employees when they demand pay parity. The new director-general must give women equal pay.

Finally, no-one ever accused Lord Hall of being courageously anti-establishment. But even his apologists in the corporation were horrified when he succumbed to Conservative pressure and accepted responsibility for free TV licences for the over-75s. It had long been the Tories’ aim to saddle the BBC with this huge expense. Hall’s predecessor, Mark Thompson, threatened to resign when he was pressured to sign up for the same deal. Needless to say Lord Hall offered no such ultimatum.

He was warned at the time that it would result in swingeing cuts to programme making. But as he prepares to pack his bags and depart, the BBC is getting ready to start charging elderly people for their TV licence – something they haven’t had to pay for for years.

I very much hope public outcry will force a UK Government retreat. Determining who gets free licences should be government responsibility not programme makers’.

I hope the new director-general will learn the lesson – succumbing to a bullying Tory government is neither brave nor wise.