Scotland’s Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop today affirmed the Scottish Government’s commitment that the values and principles of public service broadcasting would be upheld in an independent Scotland.
In a key-note speech at the Salford Media Festival, Ms Hyslop told broadcasting professionals and academics that in an independent Scotland the Scottish Government would establish a new public service broadcaster based on the staff and assets of BBC Scotland, while ensuring that viewers and listeners continue to enjoy the channels and programmes they currently receive.

She also said that independence would offer the opportunity for the Scottish Government to meaningfully address the need for more opportunities for broadcast producers and creators in Scotland.

Ms Hyslop said:

“In the Scotland I wish to see, the values and principles of public service broadcasting will be upheld. We will have a publicly-funded public service broadcaster, and provide the environment for a thriving local and international broadcasting industry based in Scotland.

“I want to see our screen industries flourish. With access to all fiscal levers following independence, future Scottish Governments could set policy to best suit our own broadcasting industry.

“When compared to the expenditure by nations of a comparable size on their primary public service broadcaster it is clear that Scotland’s current level of licence fee would be more than sufficient to provide a high-quality service, and as such I would not envisage the Scottish broadcaster carrying advertising.

“Our aim will be to increase the level of commissioning and production utilising Scotland’s talents. I think this would not just benefit Scotland, but broadcasting across all these isles.”

Ms Hyslop added: “We want to make clear that with independence we will honour all existing broadcasting licences to their completion.

“That means that the recently renewed Channel 3 and Channel 5 licences will be honoured through to 2025.

“In an independent Scotland viewers and listeners will be able to continue to enjoy the same favourites they do currently – Dr Who, Coronation Street, Strictly Come Dancing, The X-Factor, Hollyoaks and Dispatches will all still be shown and radio from Steve Wright in the Afternoon to The Archers will still be at our fingertips.”

Responding to the speech, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson claimed independence would mean that Scots would miss out on popular programmes and sporting events.

In a statement to BBC Scotland the former BBC employee said: “I worked for the BBC for a number of years and I know that right now we get the best of both worlds.  We get distinctive Scottish broadcasting and world-class BBC programmes.

“We pay around £300m towards the licence fee but, by clubbing together with the rest of the UK, we get well more than £3bn worth of programming.”

Ms Davidson added: “Running a new Scottish broadcaster means something has to give.

“Either, it will mean losing programmes or paying more for amazing coverage of things like the Olympics, to great channels like CBeebies and services like the iPlayer.”

However claims that a newly independent Scotland would be blocked from receiving BBC programmes are challenged by evidence.

In the Irish Republic, viewers can readily access BBC programmes despite having paid no licence fee.  Those on satellite and cable service providers in the Republic have free access to the BBC’s main channels with some having the choice of the main BBC network or regional stations such as BBC Wales.


2013-11-20 21:36

Did Ruth Davidson mention any examples of the distinctive Scottish broadcasting we are supposed to get? Then again she may be referring to the dreichness of most of what little we get. BBC Alba isn’t bad though but probably not what she had in mind.

People from France through Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany to Denmark can watch the BBC and ITV etc. via satellite for free now if they choose to. Will the satellite be switched off if Scotland becomes independent?
Tubby 11
2013-11-20 21:56

Will the satellite be switched off if Scotland becomes independent?

I would very much doubt this considering I (and many others) work for one of the major companies who controls access to said satellite programmes.
This topic was raised recently with senior management and was swiftly dismissed, too many jobs and too much investment (currently on going) to simply “up and leave” and too much money to be made from the viewers (they did not mention the latter).
ROI viewers (as you state) have access – so will we.
2013-11-20 22:52

I feel no loyalty whatsover towards the BBC, and setting up a Scottish broadcaster should be an act of creation, not merely a facelift and new contract for those who deliver the dross we currently have to pay for and endure. Let’s embrace and reward the likes of Jack Foster and Michael Greenway who have made themselves heard above the cacophony of unionist drivel on TV. That isn’t just sparkle, it is talent.
I am also weary of the ‘best of both worlds’ mantra. It occurs to me we get the mediocrity of both worlds. It is a rare occurance for Scotland to see the best of anything. We get very few of the privileges an independent country enjoys, and we certainly get the cheap seats and hand-me-downs in our union with England.
2013-11-21 07:31

Being a left wing organisation, I find it hardly surprising that the SNP should propose a State Propagandist fed by a License Tax. Paucity of thinking here.
The BBC in Scotland is a classic case of Stalinist propaganda for the UK government of the day. Glorious Britishness which means nothing to the average Scot.
Recognising that we are in the 21st century Digital/Multi media/Multi for of delivery age suggests to me that the SNP are mired in the past and cannot think out of the box, that’s the one in the corner of the room to them.
Stupid, regressive, negative thinking and likely to make Scotland a laughing stock perhaps even more than the current arrangement in the UK makes foreigners laugh. Prison if you don’t pay the tax – really ?.
H Scott
2013-11-21 13:51

The BBC serves Scotland badly. It is a thoroughly English institution that treats Scotland as a province or region of England/Britain and is preoccupied with England and the United States. That is how our licence fee is spent. We can do so much better. An ‘SBC’ could provide genuine local and regional programming for Scotland’s localities and regions, a national service that treats Scotland as a nation and not a provincial/regional deviation from England, and give us a truly international outlook (re)connecting us with the rest of Europe and connecting us with the rest of the world also. It could fund Scottish drama and film and all the programming that other countries take for granted but the BBC simply doesn’t provide for Scotland. And an SBC could air the existing ‘favourites’ from the BBC if that is wanted, just as other countries buy in certain BBC programmes without having to pay for all those things not wanted. The existing licence fee income in Scotland is enough for all that.
2013-11-21 15:23

The so called famous BBC impartiality is a farce, and they have done nothing for Scotland but treat us with comtempt, the quicker we get rid the better.
2013-11-21 20:55

The idea of a state broadcaster is a bit out of date. Given that technology is increasingly allowing people to view what they want why not free people to contract direct with programme producers than through a conventional channel?
Funds would be freed to support small and innovative programme production companies .
Concerned Scot
2013-11-21 21:38

I don’t suppose it needs to be pointed out that the statement today by Carwyn Jones on a sterling veto is absent from the BBC Wales site. Yet BBC think its the second top story in Scotland. Must be a quiet news day here.

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