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Opportunities for Broadcasting - Taking forward our National Conversation

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Executive Summary

Current position

  • Broadcasting is currently a reserved matter, with key decisions being taken by the UK Government at Westminster.
  • One consequence of this is that Scottish broadcasting has been marginalised within the UK framework.
  • A key challenge, in establishing new operational arrangements for broadcasting in Scotland, would be to retain the best elements of the existing UK broadcasting system while allowing for a greater level of programming which reflects Scottish life.

Calman proposals

  • The Calman Commission recommended that Scottish Ministers, rather than UK Ministers, should appoint the Scottish member of the BBC Trust. This change could be implemented immediately.
  • Scottish Ministers could also be given responsibility for approving the appointment of board members of MG Alba.

Options for devolution

  • There is scope to retain the major UK-wide broadcasting institutions while devolving greater powers to Scottish Ministers.
  • Other countries in Europe (i.e. Spain and Germany) have devolved a greater level of responsibility for broadcasting than the UK Government
  • There are a number of measures which could be adopted to strengthen accountability for broadcasting in Scotland - in particular granting the Scottish Government the power to establish public service broadcasting bodies, such as a Scottish Digital Network.

Further opportunities under independence

  • Greater autonomy in broadcasting policy would give Scotland an opportunity to set priorities which are specifically attuned to the needs of viewers in Scotland.
  • It is envisaged that the existing assets and staff of BBC Scotland would form the basis of a Scottish national broadcaster.
  • We would be able to add national events which are prioritised and broadcast on free-to-air television. For example, Scotland's football qualifiers for the World Cup and European Championship are currently only available on satellite television, but a Government of an independent Scotland could make them available to all fans on terrestrial television.