TV viewers "failed by Westminster" - FM


The First Minister has told an audience of television producers and executives that Scottish TV viewers and producers are being failed by out-dated Westminster attitudes.

Alex Salmond told the Media Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival that broadcasting policy – which is reserved to Westminster – is decades out of date.

Speaking at the festival for the first time, Mr Salmond said that broadcasting frameworks imposed by successive UK governments had not adapted to the digital revolution, nor to devolution.

The First Minister said:

“Scotland’s contribution to broadcasting is unparalleled. Television was invented by John Logie Baird and the very concept of public service broadcasting was shaped by Lord Reith.

“But Scottish viewers and TV production talent are today being short-changed.

“Since 2007 investment in training and network commissioning are up and BBC Alba – our national Gaelic language station – is a huge success, with an audience size last month nine times the number of people who speak Gaelic.

“So viewers are clearly voting with their remote controls for more Scottish content. Yet we do not have an English-language public service broadcasting channel of our own.

“The legislative framework that controls broadcasting in Scotland is based in Westminster and was put in place more than 50 years ago. Two years from the most important decision in Scotland for 300 years, it remains substantially unaltered.

“In an age of digital revolution, broadcasting policy has not even adapted to devolution.

“For example, every single MSP has endorsed the plan for a Scottish Digital Network – a new public service broadcaster that would provide plurality and choice from a distinctly Scottish perspective. It has been a central part of Scottish broadcasting policy for four years but has been ignored by successive UK governments.

“The status quo is failing Scottish TV viewers and producers. Control of broadcasting policy must lie with Edinburgh rather than Westminster.

“In Scotland we have protected free education and the NHS, and we are enacting world-leading climate change legislation. We can also take responsibility for protecting and enhancing the values of public service broadcasting.

“Television forms part of our wider vision for an independent Scotland to be a fairer and more prosperous nation. A stronger broadcasting sector provides major economic benefits – in 2009, Ireland was home to more than double the value of independent TV production than Scotland.

“Only then will broadcasting truly be Scotland’s window on the world – bringing us the best of international content and allowing us to show the world what Scotland can create.”