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BBC Alba Leading The Way For A Scottish Broadcasting Service

BBC Alba

Some potentially significant news for Scottish broadcasting reported by the Stage:

“Scotland’s first minister, Alex Salmond, has called for the country to have its own public service broadcaster, claiming the current situation is “failing Scottish TV viewers and producers”.

Addressing the Edinburgh International Television Festival, Salmond said that Scottish TV viewers and producers are being “failed by out-dated Westminster attitudes”.

He argued that Scotland should have its own public broadcaster outside of the BBC, which would be controlled by the country’s government.

“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,” he said.

He added that BBC Alba – the national Gaelic language station – had been 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,” he said.”

At the moment Scotland contributes in excess of 320 million pounds (over 400 million euros) a year to the overall BBC budget via the television licence fee. However the money reinvested in Scottish broadcasting by the BBC will soon stand at some 80 million pounds (100 million euros) – around a quarter of what it taxes from Scottish television viewers. Using either a TV licence fee or direct public funding through general taxation, with limited commercial advertising, it would not be unreasonable to expect a Scottish public television service to be able to operate with a budget of between 400 and 500 million pounds (roughly over 500 to 600 million euros).

The total budget from all sources for Ireland’s award-winning Irish language television channel TG4 stands at less than 39 million pounds per annum (around 49 million euros), yet it is widely respected and admired internationally for the range of programming it produces and broadcasts. A future SBC would have a budget twelve times that of TG4.

Can anyone seriously question Scotland’s ability to produce and sustain quality television broadcasting?

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