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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

UK & World

BBC adds another five HD TV channels

July 17 2013

The BBC has launched five further HD channels to accompany its digital stations next year. The services will bring higher quality pictures for BBC News, BBC3, BBC4, Cbeebies and CBBC, adding around 250 hours of HD shows each week. The announcement comes as Ofcom said it would use spare capacity to create 10 HD channels for digital terrestrial viewers who use Freeview. Most of the HD programmes from the new channels will also be available on the BBC’s on-demand iPlayer service. The BBC said more than half of UK homes are able to receive HD pictures, and this is expected to rise to 80% by 2016. Director general Tony Hall said: “BBC1 HD and BBC2 HD have already proved to be highly valued by our audiences and I’m delighted that we’re able to follow this with the launch of five new subscription-free BBC HD channels by early 2014. “These new channels will allow us to showcase more of our programming at its very best.” In addition to the five new services, the corporation hopes to launch regional variations of BBC1 in HD for England and BBC2 versions for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

UK & World

Trust backs plans to move BBC3 online-only

June 30 2015

Plans to take BBC3 off-air have been given the seal of approval by the BBC Trust - but the body has rejected proposals for a BBC1+1 channel. The BBC Executive wants to move BBC3 - which has been home to shows from Gavin And Stacey and Cuckoo, to Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents - online to cut costs. In its provisional conclusions outlined today, the trust said that it had some "clear concerns" about the short-term impact of the change, including "a potential impact on the ability of the BBC to try out new ideas and develop new talent". In the short term the online channel would be likely to lose viewers, having a "much smaller audience than the broadcast channel it is replacing". But it said that the plans should be approved, as the online service would save £30 million a year and be more distinctive than the current BBC3 channel, whose audience is falling. It said that the move should be dependent only on the Executive agreeing to several conditions, including clearer commitments to shows on BBC1 and/or BBC2 which appeal to younger audiences. The announcement is bad news for campaigners who have battled to keep BBC3 alive as a TV channel and have called the move "disastrous" for the fostering of "new talent" and "innovative ideas". Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe, Broadchurch actress Olivia Colman and Poldark's Aidan Turner are among those who have signed an open letter on the issue. More than 290,000 people have signed a petition to "save BBC3". After today's judgment, a further 28-day consultation period will take place with the Trust before a final decision is made later this year, and the channel could close as early as January. On average, 11.2 million people watch BBC3 every week, with around 925,000 of that figure not watching any other BBC TV service.


Scottish Government’s proposals for federal BBC outlined by Fiona Hyslop

October 12 2015

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop has outlined the Scottish Government's proposals for a new federal BBC at a meeting with the head of the corporation. The SNP administration wants the BBC to operate under a new federal structure and is calling for the creation of new TV and radio channels for Scotland. Ms Hyslop repeated the government's expectations from the current BBC charter renewal process during a meeting with BBC director general Tony Hall in London today. The next charter will form the basis for BBC operations over the next decade. She said: "Scotland has the right to expect something truly radical from the BBC charter review if the organisation is to meet the needs of audiences or support the development of a sustainable production sector in Scotland. "We have made clear our proposals - both publicly and directly to key figures from the BBC and UK Government. "But to reiterate, we're calling for a federal BBC, with at least a board for each nation that should comprise a mix of BBC staff and independent members. "Budgets should be transferred to BBC Scotland, which would allow independent decision making in relation to commissioning and editorial decisions, staffing structures and the wider running of the organisation. "We're also calling for the creation of a new TV and radio channel to support the demands of audiences and the TV sector in Scotland." She added: "These proposals must be supported by a proportionate share of the BBC licence fee, addressing the current mismatch between the £335 million income for the BBC from Scotland and the £190 million spent here, of which only around £35 million is spent on TV production for Scotland. "From the discussions we have held so far with the sector in Scotland, we know there is support for our proposals and an appetite for positive change through the charter renewal process." The plans were first revealed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in August during an address to the Edinburgh International Television Festival. The Scottish Government now has a formal role in the charter renewal process for the BBC and is consulting relevant people and organisations on its plans.

UK & World

BBC launching HD versions of five more channels

December 9 2013

Viewers will be able to see more BBC programmes in HD from tomorrow with the launch of five new channels. The subscription-free services will give high-definition versions of BBC3, BBC4, BBC News, CBeebies and CBBC. The corporation announced in the summer that it was providing further HD channels, but it has brought the launch forward from early next year. BBC director-general Tony Hall said: "I am delighted that we're able to launch our new HD channels in time for Christmas, when families gather together to enjoy some of the best TV from the BBC. “This year, people will be able to watch even more of our programmes in brilliant quality." More than half of UK homes are estimated to be capable of receiving HD. Not all homes in the UK will be capable of receiving some of the new services. News, BBC4 and CBeebies will use new capacity for Freeview and YouView viewers and the BBC says coverage will extend to 70% of UK homes by June.

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km


Former BBC news presenter John Milne

July 16 2014

Former BBC journalist and presenter John Milne has died at the age of 72. He was the face of Reporting Scotland and Newsnight Scotland for many years, and was the first presenter of Good Morning Scotland on BBC Radio Scotland. Mr Milne was born and brought up in Dundee and educated at Harris Academy. He began his journalistic career with DC Thomson on the staff of The Evening Telegraph. He moved to the Scotsman and then, seeking a move into broadcasting, he joined the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, who were setting up an English-language news service in Berne. He joined the BBC in 1971, first in the Aberdeen office as a reporter, replacing Donnie B MacLeod, who had just been hired by the BBC’s daily Pebble Mill at One TV programme and moved to Glasgow in 1973. As presenter of Reporting Scotland for 10 years during the 1980s and 1990s, he led the flagship programme’s coverage of Scotland’s major news events. He also reported on the UK-wide Nationwide television news magazine and on the Seven Days and Current Account documentary series. For much of the 2000s he was a presenter on Newsnight Scotland on BBC2 and he went on to present radio’s Newsweek Scotland on Saturday mornings before retiring in 2007 on his 65th birthday. He returned to the Dundee area in his retirement, settling in Monifieth where he enjoyed golfing on the local links. Former colleague and current Reporting Scotland presenter Jackie Bird said: “He was Reporting Scotland. “I was in awe at working with someone with such a reputation but he turned out to be warm and welcoming, with a fantastically dry sense of humour. “He was a true Scottish broadcasting great.” Ken MacQuarrie, director of BBC Scotland, said: “John was renowned for the excellence of his journalism over the many years he worked at BBC Scotland.” He leaves a wife and two sons.

UK & World

Boris Johnson says anti-Tory bias is BBC’s ‘raison d’etre’ after mocking on Sherlock

January 7 2014

The BBC says a description of an "incoherent" Mayor of London with "hair-brained" schemes which featured in an episode of Sherlock was not an attack on Boris Johnson. Eagle-eyed viewers would have seen the comments in a spoof newspaper story which flashed up briefly on screen during Sunday's edition of the BBC1 show. Mr Johnson said it was up to the BBC if they wanted to use licence fee cash to attack Conservative politicians which he claimed was the corporation's "raison d'etre". Viewers who paused the programme could have read the mock article which flashed briefly on screen and revolved around the "current Mayor of London" turning the Thames into an express waterway to beat congestion. It said: "The hair-brained scheme involved chartering disused boats, paying for their conversion into a version of London's famous bus, the Routemaster, but this plan has already foundered after pilot schemes revealed that customers were walking straight off the boat and into the icy currents of the Thames. "When asked to explain how the system might move forward, or even be profitable, or perhaps even to explain the point, the Mayor, who was at a self-promotion event, was found to be dithering, incoherent, and self-interested." Mr Johnson who was named in the story was reported to have responded to the wording by saying: "It is elementary my dear Watson, I deduce a simple case of BBC bias." But speaking on LBC 97.3 this morning, he said: "I think it is perfectly legitimate for people to satirise politicians and there you go. "I don't rule out the possibility, by the way, that this is an attack on the previous mayor, who after all himself spent large sums of public money on investigating whether there should be a Thames estuary airport and used to drivel on about putting people on the river. "But, unlike the previous mayor I actually expanded river transport. We doubled the number of passengers on the river and we are actually getting somewhere at last in sorting out our aviation capacity problem. "So, whatever the BBC may say ... you know, they are entitled to spend taxpayers' money attacking Conservative politicians. That's what they do, that's their raison d'etre, and I don't in anyway want to discourage them." A spokeswoman for the BBC said: "Sherlock is a fictional drama series. Both the newspaper and Mayor featured in the episode were entirely fictional and were not named or politically affiliated."


Scottish Government calls for new ‘federal’ model for BBC

September 24 2015

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop has outlined the Scottish Government's plans for a new federal BBC at a meeting with figures from the country's television sector. The government wants the corporation to operate under a federal structure, with separate boards made up of BBC staff and independent members in Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland. It wants a "fairer share" of the overall BBC budget to be transferred to BBC Scotland and has also called for the development of a distinct BBC Scotland TV channel and an additional radio station. The plans were first revealed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon last month during an address to the Edinburgh International Television Festival. The Scottish Government now has a formal role in the Charter Renewal process for the BBC and is consulting relevant people and organisations on its plans. The next charter will form the basis for BBC operations over the next decade. Ms Hyslop said: "Scotland has the right to expect something truly radical from the charter review, if the BBC is to meet the needs and reflect the lives of Scottish audiences to support the development of a sustainable production sector in Scotland. "Today I have outlined the Scottish Government's proposals for the future of the BBC: a federal BBC, with at least a board for each nation, with a mix of BBC staff and independent members. "This model itself would not incur any great additional costs but would encourage independent decision-making over editorial direction, staffing structures and commissioning, and co-operation over the wider running of the organisation. "This must be also be supported by a proportionate share of the BBC licence fee, ensuring spend in Scotland reflects what is raised in Scotland. "There is currently a clear mis-match between the licence fee raised in Scotland and the amount spent in Scotland of around £120 million. "This model would ensure resources can be stewarded intelligently in a way appropriate to the context - equipping the BBC in Scotland with more tools to deliver a high-quality service. "This government has called for the creation of a new TV and radio channel, to support the demands of audiences and the TV sector. "New television and radio platforms are the accelerator through which we can improve the sustainability of our production sector and make it more representative of life in Scotland."

Motoring news

Join the queue for littlest Audi Q

November 9 2016

Audi’s relentless release of new models continues with the launch of its smallest SUV. The Q2 goes on sale in the UK next week with prices starting at £22,380. There’s an extensive selection of petrol and diesel power trains as well as the option of front or Quattro four-wheel drive. More models will be added to the range later on, including powerful SQ2 and RSQ2 versions. Aimed squarely at a younger audience, the Q2 has bolder, sharper lines and a different shape to Audi’s bigger SUVs, the Q3, Q5 and Q7. Although it’s clearly meant more for buzzing around cities than growling across farmland, cladding and skid plates lend it an aura of ruggedness. Audi is also offering a range of vibrant colours to deepen the Q2’s appeal to youthful buyers. The interior is as plush as you’d expect from Audi, justifying its price hike over similarly sized SUVs like the Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V. The materials are high quality – softtouch plastics, leather on higher spec cars and brushed aluminium trim elements all blended into a smart-looking package. As standard, drivers get a seven-inch infotainment screen on top of the dashboard. It’s operated through Audi’s rotary dial system that’s far more intuitive and easier to use when on the move than rivals’ touchscreen systems. Among the many options is Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit - a 12.3in screen that replaces the manual instruments behind the steering wheel. Overall, the Q2 is 4.7in shorter than the A3 hatchback, but Audi says there’s enough leg and headroom for two adult passengers in the back. Boot space comes in at 405 litres – 50 more than you’ll find in the A3 hatchback and rival Nissan Juke, although it trails the Mini Countryman by the same amount. To begin with, the only diesel option is a 1.6 litre with 114bhp, although a more powerful 184bhp 2.0 litre unit will be added to the range soon. Similarly, the petrol engine range is limited for now but will be expanded by the end of the year. The 1.4 litre, 148bhp unit offered now will be joined by 1.0 litre, 114bhp three cylinder turbo and 2.0 litre, 187bhp options – the latter coming with an S-Tronic automatic gearbox. When it arrives the 1.0 litre petrol version will be the cheapest model in the range with a price tag of £20,230. Courier Motoring has yet to get its hands on the car but early reviews have been very positive and Audi looks to have yet another winner on its hands. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk