WHITEHALL insiders have confirmed the plans for a separate Scottish Six programme are dead.

They referred to the draft BBC charter stressing how the corporation must “contribute to the social cohesion and wellbeing of the United Kingdom,” making clear that if the corporation decided, after making pilots this autumn, to press ahead with a plan for a Scottish Six to replace the current UKwide programme, then this would be in breach of the new charter.

At Westminster, Karen Bradley, the Culture secretary, made clear that the BBC had to reflect news and the “national mood” across the whole of the UK.

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John Nicolson for the SNP asked: “Would the Secretary of State agree with me the matter of a separate Scottish Six is entirely the responsibility of the BBC and their right to continue their pilots?”

Ms Bradley replied: “The BBC is the nation’s broadcaster and I expect the BBC to reflect the national mood and the national news that is important across the whole nation. But…it is for the BBC who have operational independence in this matter to determine exactly they make that happen.”

Ian Murray, Scottish Labour’s Westminster spokesman, emphasised the point that the charter renewal should not undermine the flexibility of BBC Scotland’s news programmes but should “underline how important it is for audiences to choose programming and not politicians”.

Ms Bradley said she agreed, saying: “This is for the BBC and the viewing public to make that determination. They will watch the programmes they want to watch and the BBC will take editorial decisions around that.”

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Tory backbencher David Morris asked: “Just for absolute clarity, why is there no provision in the statement for Scotland’s very own six o’clock news?”

The secretary of state replied: “That is a matter of the editorial independence of the BBC and for them to make that decision.”

However, following the statement senior sources made clear a separate Scottish Six news programme was a non-starter as it would contravene the BBC’s fundamental purpose to be a national ie a UKwide broadcaster.

One insider closely involved in the charter review process earlier told the Daily Mail: “The draft charter requires the BBC to have a UK-wide approach and to support and promote the United Kingdom. The BBC should be providing national news in the prime late evening and early evening slots and these programmes have to go across the whole of the United Kingdom so that there is a shared news experience that is reflective of the United Kingdom.

“It is important to show people in Scotland what is happening across the United Kingdom, just as people in the rest of the UK should see what is happening in Scotland. Pushing for a Scottish Six is entirely an SNP initiative and is not something the people of Scotland seem to be demanding,” he added.

Under the Scottish Six proposal, supported by BBC bosses in Glasgow and London, the programme would have lasted 60 minutes and provided coverage of Scottish, UK and international news.

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However, the plan was said to have gone down badly with focus groups as viewers expressed concerns at not seeing regular UK presenters like Fiona Bruce, Laura Kuenssberg, and Huw Edwards.

However, a BBC Scotland source said that the process is not ‘dead’ and that the news review, which includes the Scottish Six, is an editorial decision.

The source added: "Our pilots and research are continuing, and we have new ones starting next week.

"We’re still on target  to conclude that process by the turn of the year.

"The news review [including the Scottish Six] is an editorial decision and therefore is not affected by the Charter.

"It’s not referred to specifically in the Charter because it’s an editorial matter."