THE BBC's plans for a new TV channel for Scotland could be scuppered by a major review by the broadcasting regulator Ofcom.

Ofcom has announced it is to subject the plans for the new digital channel to a six-month analysis, or Competition Assessment (BCA), and will deliver its verdict on the plans in July.

The decision will come only months before the £32m channel is due to begin broadcasting daily on a new digital platform.

New uncertainty over the decision could affect the planning for the new service, experts said last night.

Ofcom said, in a letter to the corporation, that there were aspects of the BBC Scotland plan that they were concerned with, and that the plans had the potential to harm "fair and effective" competition.

It also said the BBC could have looked at some aspects of the plan, and its impact on journalism in Scotland, "in greater detail".

The BBC announced proposals in February 2017 for the new channel, and said it would hire 80 journalists for the service, and last night a spokesman said hires are still continuing.

However Professor John Cook, media expert at Glasgow Caledonian University, said that, given the time table of the review, an Autumn 2018 launch may now be "optimistic" for the new channel.

A complete cancellation of the plan by Ofcom is one of four potential outcomes of the BCA review, the regulator said, which also include implementation of the scheme with modifications.

Ofcom said it would publish its final decision by 11 July but a provisional decision is expected in March or April.

The corporation's own board found that the channel passed its Public Interest Test, but Ofcom said that while the new channel may "enhance public value" it also has the "potential to harm fair and effective competition."

Market impacts of the new station include a potential to "crowd out" commercial broadcasters, notably STV.

It could also negatively affect other Scottish online news providers and Scottish newspapers.

Ofcom is also concerned about the impact of the broadcast of BBC 4 in Scotland, and what the new channel will mean for Scotland only programming on BBC 2.

Ian Small, the BBC's head of public policy and corporate affairs, said that Ofcom were "quite right" to look at the affect of the station of the market, and it would have been unusual for the channel to be "nodded through" by the regulator.

Mr Small admitted that Ofcom could advise against the channel.

He told BBC Scotland's Newsdrive show: "I think it is a possibility, but without any sense of prejudging what the regulator will think, it is most likely they will come back and think it is a solid idea.

"I don't think anything is inconceivable."

Professor Cook agreed that cancellation of the plan was unlikely, but said that Ofcom may want the station to go ahead "with stipulations".

He added: "It was unlikely that Ofcom was just going to wave this through - they have the right to look at this proposal in more detail.

"I think generally, this is a fair decision."

Ofcome said that its review will involve market research and economic analysis and will "take account of the stakeholders responses we have already received."

The BBC said it had anticipated the review.

A spokesman added: "We welcome Ofcom's decision to scrutinise the proposal for the new channel and we look forward to contributing to the consultation exercise."

A spokeswoman for STV said: "STV welcomes Ofcom’s response that a full Competition Assessment (BCA) of the BBC’s proposals should be undertaken.

"It is important that the potential impact of these is properly assessed.

"Following the conclusion of the BCA, we will be pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to the consultation process to ensure any development plans are appropriate to enhance services for audiences and benefit the creative industries sector in Scotland."