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Opportunities for Broadcasting - Taking forward our National Conversation


5 Conclusion

5.1. Scottish broadcasting is suffering from long-term UK neglect which has reduced the cultural, democratic and economic benefits which the Scottish people could and should expect to enjoy from it. In particular, the absence of serious public service competition to the BBC for Scottish programming has limited choice for viewers, while the decline in network commissioning from Scotland by major broadcasters has adversely affected the television production industry.

5.2. Some of the problems which have affected broadcasting in Scotland could be partially resolved under existing constitutional arrangements, or under "devolution max". The recent actions undertaken by the BBC to increase network production in Scotland, for example, declare a public commitment by a UK-wide institution to support the production sector in Scotland though it has not yet happened in practice and there are presently no formal legislative mechanisms by which the BBC can be held to account on this or other matters. However there are many risks in a situation whereby the Scottish Government is dependent on the UK Government or UK-wide institutions to address specifically Scottish needs. The length of time that it took to establish BBC Alba is one example of that; the lack of a UK Government decision on establishing a Scottish Digital Network provides an even more recent and damaging example.

5.3. Ultimately, the best method of ensuring that broadcasting services in Scotland meet the needs of Scottish viewers is to ensure that accountability and responsibility for broadcasting are based in Scotland. The proposals of the Calman Commission would have no direct impact on the experience of viewers in Scotland and even devolution max would not give Scotland full control over the broadcasting policy (although the Catalonian model of devolution would be a useful step forward).

5.4. Independence would give Scotland the same powers to ensure choice in public service broadcasting as countries such as Denmark and Ireland have enjoyed for years. In recent times viewers in Scotland have become used to a wide choice of channels - whether through satellite, cable or Freeview - yet the amount of programming that reflects Scottish life has actually reduced as has the benefit accruing to the Scottish production industry. Any independent Scottish government in the future would be able to preserve and enhance this choice - acting as Scotland's window on the world to bring us the best of content from every other country and allowing us to show the world what Scotland is capable of creating.

5.5. A Scot invented television. Scots have shown their world quality in the industry over many years. But the industry is in difficulty, and change is required to fully realise the potential of Scotland's broadcasting talent and to deliver programming that meets the disparate demands of its audience at home and abroad.

How to participate in the National Conversation

5.6. We welcome on-going debate regarding the issues covered by this paper as
part of our National Conversation. Comments on the paper and the policy options
set out can be made through the National Conversation website at www.anationalconversation.com . Responses can also be sent by post to:

National Conversation (Broadcasting)
Culture Division
Scottish Government
2H - Victoria Quay

5.7. You can also participate by attending National Conversation events. Details of these can be found on the National Conversation website.