BBC Scotland has signalled defeat in the evening current affairs programming contest with STV, by cancelling its nightly news programme Scotland 2016.

The new BBC Scotland head of news, Gary Smith, has announced the end of the programme as part of a raft of fresh changes to the news output at the corporation north of the border.

Scotland 2016, shown on BBC 2, will cease at the end of this year, after losing out in the ratings war with STV's Scotland Tonight, which has an average audience of 85,000 compared to the BBC show's 35,000.

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STV’s Scotland Tonight is the most watched current affairs programme in Scotland and celebrates its fifth anniversary in September, while the BBC show began in 2014 for the Scottish independence referendum.

Mr Smith said he wants to "toughen up" Reporting Scotland, the main news strand, which will become more serious with less "soft" features and news stories, and more input from the station's specialist reporters.


Scotland 2016 is currently presented by Shelley Jofre and was originally presented by Sarah Smith, who is now the BBC's Scotland Editor.

Scotland Tonight is presented by John MacKay and Rona Dougall, and launched in 2011.

Mr Smith, who grew up in Glasgow and studied at Glasgow University, told staff yesterday that a revamp of the BBC Scotland news operation would see a new weekly current affairs programme instead.

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The major decision over an hour-long Scottish Six news show will be made in the Autumn, he added.

"Scotland 2016 has struggled to find an audience since it was launched in the run up to the independence referendum," he said.


"Extending it into 2015 was the right thing to do because of the interest in politics between the referendum and the general election.

"Since then its audience has fallen and it is in a difficult spot, it is up against the established STV show and on Thursday's, Question Time."

The show will run until the end of this year and its replacement will still be primarily about politics, he said.

On Reporting Scotland, Mr Smith told staff: "I’m keen to make it newsier and more analytical, with fewer soft features, and more rigour round the news value of the stories in the sports belt.

"We’re looking at using more big screen studio analysis, and more live [reporting]."

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He said: "This is a serious news programme and I want to toughen it up a bit. There were some nights where there were frankly too many soft stories."

He said there would be no permanent job losses and for those on short term contracts "we'll do everything we can to find ongoing roles."

Mr Smith said: "I’m proposing some changes to our output, including closing some programmes, and adapting to where our audiences are. "We’ve become overstretched, with reductions in staffing over past years, but not in output.

"It’s time now to live within our means, and focus on our core programmes."

Mr Smith said the biggest area for growth for the BBC news operation was in digital, and would be focussing on its website - in particular a Scotland edition of the BBC Home News page, as well as mobile, app and social media.

He added: "This is an impressive news operation and I’m proud to be part of it.

"But to meet the challenges we face from new technology, changing audience needs and an increasingly competitive news industry, we need to make some changes - to our programmes, content and leadership structure.

"We also need to save some money, as do all parts of the BBC."