THE BBC has been accused of using an indoor bowling contest in Norfolk to meet their promise to make more programmes in Scotland.

Under the corporation’s operating licence, it has an obligation to ensure that at least 8% of the hours of programming shown in the United Kingdom are made in Scotland.

But according to the latest issue of Private Eye, the BBC is using the late-night broadcasts of sporting activities to fulfil its quota.

The two-week-long World Indoor Bowls Championship at Potters Resort in Norfolk was shown exclusively on BBC Two in January, with coverage lasting hours at a time in the afternoon, and late at night.

The National: BBC signage

The coverage was produced by Sunset + Vine Scotland. However, according to filings with Companies House, Sunset + Vine Scotland has been dormant since its inception in 2004.

That filing also reveals that its office in Scotland is “care of” Edit 123, a television post-production facility on Blythswood Street in Glasgow.

Its parent company, Tinopolis, has its headquarters in Llanelli, Wales.

The firm also owns Question Time makers Mentorn, who were at the centre of a similar row over the new BBC Scotland channel’s Debate Night show last year.

There was also concern over the corporation’s coverage of the Masters snooker tournament at Alexandra Palace in London.

Coverage of the contest was screened daily, with a 50-minute highlight programme every night on BBC2 at around 11.15pm. A two-hour edit of the previous day’s play would then go out straight after.

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There was also live coverage throughout the day and through the red button.

The programme was made by independent producers IMG Sports Media Scotland, which is part of global media giant IMG.

Its address at Companies House is listed 40 Pacific Quay, Glasgow – the same address as BBC Scotland. This Scottish company is also responsible for the BBC’s coverage of the UK snooker championship in York, and the world championship in Sheffield.

The SNP’s front-bench spokesman on Culture, Media and Sport, John Nicolson, said tackling Scotland’s under-representation should be a priority for whoever becomes the next BBC director general.

He told The National: “The SNP will always defend public service broadcasting, but after decades of underfunding and under-representation, it’s time the BBC made delivering for Scotland a priority.

The National:

“Last month I set out five ambitions the new director general of the BBC must address, including ensuring that the BBC adequately represents the realities of devolution, delivering fair funding for BBC Scotland and looking at transferring broadcasting control to Scotland, which would help to tackle Scotland’s under-representation on BBC.”

Last year there was outrage when the contract to produce a Scottish political discussion programme on the corporation’s new Scottish channel was awarded to Mentorn Scotland.

While it has an office in Scotland, it, too, is owned by Tinopolis.

There were allegations of “lift and shift” where a TV company would set up a Scottish “desks”, but the majority of the work, the majority of the spending and employment remains in London.

Under Ofcom rules, public broadcasters awarding contracts to independent producers in the nations and regions must ensure the winning bidder has “a substantive base” and “production talent” in the area.

The National: BBC office

A spokesman for Tinopolis said: “The Tinopolis Group is satisfied that Sunset + Vine meet all required elements in delivering its outstanding programming content for the BBC.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We have urged the BBC to ensure its spend in Scotland has the maximum impact on our creative economy and we expect to see improvements following Ofcom’s recent review where the regulator committed to monitor and enforce this more fully.

“We welcomed the new BBC Scotland channel last year and the memorandum of understanding between Screen Scotland and BBC Scotland to deliver high-quality and authentic programming and to strengthen the range of content commissioned in Scotland.”

There has long been tension between the Scottish Government and the BBC over the money spent here.

Analysis published by the Scottish Parliament’s Information Centre (Spice) in 2018 found the BBC raised just under £324 million last year from licence fee-payers in Scotland, but spent £223m – 69% of the total – in Scotland, with the remaining £101m directed to headquarters. The percentage was down from 72% during 2016-17.