THE BBC failed to spend the required percentage of its production budget in Scotland, an Ofcom report has revealed.

As part of its operating licence, the BBC is required to spend 8% of its total expenditure on BBC Network programming in the UK in Scotland. This is about in line with population figures.

However, in 2020-2021 the corporation “failed to comply” with this requirement, instead spending just 6.5% of its expenditure north of the Border.

The BBC also failed to comply with two further aspects of its operating licence in relation to spending in the nations and regions.

Firstly, it is required to spend at least 50% of its expenditure on BBC Network programming in the UK outwith the M25 - the ring road around London. It missed this target by 2.1 percentage points.

The National: BBC Television Centre in Wood Lane, London, where an intruder burst into the BBC radio and television newsroom in sending journalists, including newsreader Anna Ford, scurrying for cover. According to one witness the intruder threw a small table through a

The BBC is also required to spend 3% of its expenditure in Northern Ireland, again about in line with population. The Ofcom report found it had missed this target by a significant margin at just 1.7% of expenditure.

The SNP said the figures made it "easy to understand why viewers in Scotland are frustrated".

They went on: “Earlier this year, it was revealed that spending per viewer in Scotland fell behind Wales and Northern Ireland, and now it has come to light that the BBC hasn't met the requirement to spend 8% - spending only 6.5% - of its total expenditure on BBC network programmes in Scotland.

"Last month, the BBC took a positive step and published a 10-point impartiality plan but now it must explain why it hasn't even met the minimum requirement when it comes to spending on programmes in Scotland."

The reason given for the failure to meet these requirements is that Covid-19 impacted differently on spending across the regions and nations. In 2019-2020, 9% of the expenditure went to Scottish production centres.

The corporation also took mitigating actions, including initiatives to help “smaller and out-of-London companies get back up and running” and allocating two-thirds of its Small Indie Fund to the nations and regions, the report notes.

The figures come from the broadcast regulator’s fourth annual report into the BBC, which was published today (November 25).

READ MORE: Outrage as BBC spending in Scotland revealed to be less than half what it raises from Scots

The report also reveals that people in Scotland are the least likely to have a favourable impression of the public broadcaster.

A total of 49% of Scots told Ofcom that they have a “positive” impression of the BBC, the only category in which the view is in the minority.

Other people who are likely to have less favourable impressions of the corporation are disabled audiences (53%) and those from less-well-off backgrounds (53%).

People in London (64%) and people from richer backgrounds (63%) were more likely to have a more positive impression of the broadcaster.

Overall, 58% of people in the UK reported a positive view of the broadcaster.

Elsewhere, the report reveals that complaints about the BBC to Ofcom have more than trebled since 2017-2018. While just 1673 were sent to the regulator four years ago, it this year received 5429.

While the number of complaints about the BBC’s impartiality has risen by a similar amount, the proportion of total complaints about the issue has remained stable around 30%.

READ MORE: BBC Three to return to TV screens after Ofcom approves relaunch

Ofcom has also announced its approval for the relaunch of BBC Three on normal TV. It said this would help the corporation to connect with young people and other audiences.

Figures show that younger people aged 16-34 spend much less time with the BBC each day than their older counterparts – just over an hour compared with 2 hours 23 minutes.

While nine in 10 adults use the BBC’s services each week, this falls to eight in 10  among 15-24-year-olds.

More children aged 11-16 use Netflix (77%) than the BBC’s TV, radio and online services combined (74%). The BBC’s iPlayer streaming service has seen a large jump in usage, up 28% on the previous year.

The BBC’s spending on first-run, original TV content has been in long-term decline – from £1.6bn in 2010 to £1.01bn in 2020 – and exacerbated by the pandemic.

Spending on first-run programmes in at-risk genres like comedy and music has declined faster compared to spending on all other genres.

The BBC’s total income has fallen by 4.5% in real terms since 2017/18, the report says.

Kevin Bakhurst, Ofcom's group director for broadcasting and online content, said: "The BBC remains highly valued by the public and made a clear, positive contribution during the pandemic.

"But the last year has also seen its reputation hit by historical failings, with some viewers and listeners doubting its impartiality, and others feeling excluded.

"The BBC must dare to be different, extending its appeal to viewers and listeners of all backgrounds, classes, cultures, ages or locations. That includes producing bold UK content, which is why we’re setting new rules around the relaunch of BBC Three."

The new rules include a requirement for at least 75% of the channel’s broadcast hours to be original, UK content.

A BBC spokesperson said: “We are pleased Ofcom recognises the BBC continues to deliver on its remit through its popularity with audiences, offering a wide range of programming, investing heavily in the UK creative sector and providing trusted news.

“We’ve committed to better representing and reflecting communities through our ambitious Across the UK plans, with lots planned for Scotland, and providing all audiences with great value and brilliant original content. Ofcom are clear in their report that the reason the three conditions were not met last year was because of Covid.”