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Opportunities for Broadcasting - Taking forward our National Conversation

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2 The Calman Commission's recommendations for broadcasting

Chapter Summary

  • The Calman Commission recommended that Scottish 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 the Chair and Board members of MG Alba.

2.1. The Commission on Scottish Devolution, chaired by Sir Kenneth Calman, published its final report on 15 June 2009. The report included one recommendation relevant to broadcasting - recommendation 5.4, that "The responsibility for the appointment of the Scottish member of the BBC Trust should be exercised by Scottish Ministers, subject to the normal public appointments process." 21 The report refrains from making further comments, stating simply that it "notes the work of the Scottish Broadcasting Commission and does not feel it necessary to comment further on broadcasting in Scotland."

2.2. The Scottish Government has already made clear that it agrees with the Calman Commission's recommendation in relation to broadcasting, and would like to see the change, which does not require legislation, implemented as soon as possible.

2.3. It is perhaps surprising that the Calman Commission did not recommend another change of a similar nature. At the moment, Board members of MG Alba (the organisation responsible for the output of the BBC Alba channel) are appointed by Ofcom. Their appointments have to be approved by the Secretary of State for Scotland. It is logical to transfer that responsibility so that their appointment is approved by the Scottish Ministers - especially since funding for MG Alba is provided wholly by the Scottish Government rather than the UK Government 22. This change would require primary legislation at Westminster - the UK Government's forthcoming Digital Economy Bill might offer an appropriate legislative vehicle.

2.4. Adoption of the Calman Commission recommendation, and the transfer of responsibilities in relation to MG Alba appointments, would not materially alter viewers' experience of broadcasting in Scotland. Instead they would be minor steps in granting the Scottish Government appropriate responsibility for distinctively Scottish parts of the UK broadcasting framework.