Scottish creative sector could miss out on £1.5 billion

BBC spending low in Scotland.

Scotland’s creative sector is set to miss out on nearly £1.5 billion of investment from the licence fee over the next decade, Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said today (Thursday 6, October).

From the £320 million raised annually by licence fee payers in Scotland, only £176.5 million is spent in Scotland.

If Scotland received the same rate of licence fee investment as BBC Wales it would see spending increase here by over £140 million every year. Ms Hyslop has long called for a fairer investment from the BBC for Scotland, which the latest charter, published last month, failed to address.

Licence fee raised and respective returns for BBC content and services at both network and local level are:

  • Wales – £186.5 million is raised from the licence fees and spends £177.7 million. Representing a 95.3% return (excluding elements of S4C’s funding)
  • Northern Ireland – £99 million is raised from the licence fees and spends £73.4 million. Representing a 74% return
  • Scotland – £320.1 million is raised from the licence fees and spends £176.5 million. Representing a 55% return.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said:

“For every £1 paid in Scotland for the licence fee, only 55p comes back to be invested in our screen sector, our creative industries and our economy.

“We welcome the BBC’s investment in Wales and Northern Ireland – we believe it’s only fair that Scotland gets a fair share too. If we got the same fair share as Wales, Scotland could benefit from over £140 million year from the licence fee raised here. That is before we consider what Scotland’s share of BBC’s other income, such as that from BBC Worldwide, should be.

“While we welcome the support pledged for better representation of Scotland as a nation, the creative economy and the provision of the Gaelic language, the charter needs to be more ambitious and viewers in Scotland deserve a better outcome.

“We continue to engage positively with the UK Government and the BBC, which is why it’s disappointing that the draft charter has missed the opportunity to fully deliver for the people of Scotland.”


In 2016 the BBC’s published accounts (P94) state the BBC spent £69.4 million on network television content from Wales. Those same accounts recognise network BBC TV content spend in Scotland of just £65.7 million – meaning £3.7 million less was spent on BBC network TV programmes in Scotland (9% of UK population/Licence Fee payers) than in Wales (5% of UK population/Licence Fee payers).


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