The referendum white paper for an independent Scotland released today proposed the creation of a Scottish Broadcasting Service. It would be a publicly funded Public Service Broadcaster working with the BBC in a joint venture.
The paper argues that Scotland contributes more in licence fees than it benefits. In 2011/12 the BBC Scotland budget was just over £200 million, but the paper highlighted that the Scottish contribution to the licence fee stands at £320m.
Last week Scotland’s culture secretary, Fiona Hyslop stated that income from the existing licence fee in Scotland would be enough to run a new national public service broadcaster in the event of independence.
“The importance of publicly funded public service broadcasting to a nation’s democracy, creative economy, and to its sense of self cannot be underestimated,” Hyslop said in the Scotsman newspaper.
“Whether online, TV and radio, these broadcasts are a daily part of the lives of everyone in Scotland, but their opportunities to access programming commissioned, produced and developed in Scotland is still far too limited.”
The 640-page paper, a blueprint for how Scotland would be run in the event of becoming independent, stated: “Evidence also suggests that people in Scotland want more Scottish programming alongside access to the best from the rest of the UK and the wider world.”
In addition to BBC broadcasting in English, Scotland also has a Gaelic-language public broadcaster, BBC Alba, which in 2008 was the first channel to be delivered under a BBC licence by a partnership – it is jointly run by a Scottish media organisation, MG Alba.
Scotland will decide whether or not it separates from the UK in a referendum on 18 September 2014.