The first radio broadcast by the newly-established British Broadcasting Company occurred on 14 November 1922 . The Company was a limited company, but it was not operating a fully commercial service. The Government preferred that a broadcasting service was undertaken by manufacturers of suitable equipment at their risk, but allowed them a portion of licence fees received from those who bought receiving equipment. The Company was succeeded by the British Broadcasting Corporation on 1 January 1927, following a recommendation to Government that broadcasting remain a monopoly within a public corporation. The new authority was established under a Royal Charter, which gave the BBC a significant status not enjoyed by successor commercial broadcasting services. The Charter, renewed on a number of occasions since it was first granted, ensured that there would be no political control over the BBC. A regular public television service began in November 1936, although it ceased operations during the Second World War.
The first home radio station in Scotland was opened in Glasgow in March 1923, followed by Aberdeen in October 1923. Edinburgh station opened in May 1924, and the fourth Scottish station, Dundee, opened in November 1924. It was difficult to cater for the widely-scattered population in Scotland, as the transmitters could cope only with urban areas. A Scottish Regional Station, with a more powerful transmitter, was opened at Westerglen (about halfway between Edinburgh and Glasgow) in 1932. Television transmissions started in Scotland in 1952. The first BBC Gaelic television programme was transmitted in March 1962.
A Scottish Regional Director of the BBC was appointed in September 1933, a post which became Controller, Scotland in 1947. At first the Scottish headquarters of the BBC were in Glasgow, but in November 1930 a new HQ was opened in Edinburgh. During the Second World War administration was switched to Glasgow, where BBC Scotland's HQ has subsequently been based.
Increasingly consultation with user interest groups became important for the BBC The Scottish Regional Advisory Council was formed in January 1947, ceasing 5 years later. Its purpose was to advise the BBC on all matters concerning regional programme policy in Scotland, but it did not control regional policy. It was the predecessor of the Broadcasting Council for Scotland (BCS), which was created in 1952 and still exists. Its head is the National Governor for Scotland, a post also created in 1952. The BCS is a body established under the BBC's Royal Charter which exists to ensure that the interests of the licence fee payers in Scotland are properly represented. The Council also acts as the primary advisers to the BBC's Board of Governors on issues affecting Scotland. Audience responses are reported monthly in the form of dedicated research and through calls and correspondence.
In the first decade or so, the Scottish stations broadcast programmes mostly in the evenings, and could take other programmes from London. Not all Scottish-originated programmes were on Scottish matters, and on occasion the London HQ was critical of the content of the local programmes. Programmes included music, news, good causes appeals, plays, religious affairs and programmes on Scottish anniversaries. Many plays were specially commissioned for the radio. The productions of the winners of radio drama competitions and Scottish theatre companies both professional and amateur were also broadcast. In 1939, Scottish listeners had two radio services: the National Programme, and the Scottish Regional Programme. The Scottish Home Service (which started in 1945) also included school broadcasts, history programmes, outside broadcasts of sport and Scottish plays: a mix of popular and serious programme material. The arrival from 1976 of community and area radio stations provided more opportunities for local opt-out programmes, although the BBC as a whole also wanted to strengthen its new Radio Scotland channel (introduced 1978), which was to provide a single service for Scotland.
Because of the centralising tendencies evident even in the late 1920s, there was a feeling within the BBC as a whole that exploitation of London-based facilities and talent was preferable to creating new programmes in the regions. Complaints made about the centralisation led every so often to attempts to bolster the regional structure. The start of independent broadcasting in 1955, which had a federal structure which permitted more regional diversity, prompted more decentralisation within the BBC. The BBC as a whole felt that its strength arose through unity, and did not wish to divide into separate regional units. The term BBC Scotland therefore reflected the decentralisation and the unity. Further challenges to the BBC's structure arose with the advent of an additional commercial television channel in the 1980s, various independent local radio stations, and especially in the 1990s satellite and cable broadcasts which gave viewers and listeners a multiplicity of choice.
W H McDowell, The History of BBC Broadcasting in Scotland, 1923-1983 (Edinburgh, 1992) ; http://www.bbc.co.uk/info/.