THE BBC in Scotland has been branded a “deplorable waste of money” by a former editor as the number of people watching its main news shows continues to dwindle.

Professor Tim Luckhurst, a former editor at BBC Scotland and The Scotsman, said the viewing figures for The Seven and The Nine were “atrocious” and suggested the broadcaster should stop spending licence fees on the content.

A mere 200 people watched The Seven, the 15-minute news programme on the BBC Scotland channel, on Sunday, January 7.

Meanwhile, The Nine – the channel’s hour-long show - only reached 1700 viewers last Wednesday, about 0.1% of those watching television at the time.

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So far this year The Nine – for which 80 journalism jobs were created - has only had 8200 on its most successful day, which was January 8.

More than 750,000 people tuned in for The Nine's launch in 2019. 

Prof Luckhurst told The Times: “The viewing figures for The Seven and The Nine are atrocious.

“Indeed, BBC Scotland appears to be spending licence fees on output that achieves a statistically insignificant reach. It should stop. The pursuit of non-existent viewers is a deplorable waste of money.”

The BBC Scotland channel cost the corporation £35 million to run last year.

Among the Scotland-only services provided by the BBC, it has the highest budget, but the lowest reach and the shortest average watching time.

Last year, fewer than one in seven watched the BBC Scotland channel and the average time spent watching was just one hour and 24 minutes per week.

In 2020, it reached more than one in five Scots, and so, between 2020 and 2022, the audience fell by 38%.

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Figures also suggest Reporting Scotland on BBC One is losing popularity. STV News at Six was watched by about a third of viewers on the average day in 2023, compared with around a quarter for Reporting Scotland.

The STV programme has been better watched for five years running, and figures from Ofcom show that STV is the most-used source for accessing news about Scotland by people in the country.

Luckhurst added: “The BBC’s UK leaders should pay close attention to these figures.

“Scots are interested in UK and international affairs. The parochial audience the BBC has targeted is an expensive fiction.”

The BBC has said it continues to provide “market-leading services” in Scotland and has seen considerable growth in iPlayer viewing of BBC Scotland content.

A BBC spokesman said: “Against a background of declining audiences for all linear channels in recent years, the BBC in Scotland continues to provide market-leading services.

“The BBC Scotland channel continues to reach more viewers than any other digital channel in Scotland — its weekly reach in 2023 was 13.5% or 701,000.

“The channel was launched as a multi-platform service, and we have seen considerable growth in iPlayer viewing of BBC Scotland content. It has risen from 1.6 million weekly requests to 2.4 million, a growth rate of 45% year on year.

“During 2023, Reporting Scotland’s bulletins had a weekly TV reach of 1,575,000 — which is ahead of other commercial news providers in the country.

“The Nine had a weekly reach of 106,000 between January and November 2023 and its journalism extends beyond the nightly show into other parts of our news output.”