New Scottish TV channel ‘will starve industry of £75m’

Alan Clements says country already lagging behind rest of the UK. Picture: Robert Perry

Alan Clements says country already lagging behind rest of the UK. Picture: Robert Perry

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AN STV boss has told MPs that Nicola Sturgeon’s demand for a new Scottish channel would not help TV production north of the border which he said was already lagging behind that of other parts of the UK.

Ms Sturgeon has called for a new BBC Scotland TV channel after she said the old model of public broadcasting no longer reflected the “varied and rich political and social realities of the UK”.

Alan Clements, STV director of content, suggested that such a move would starve TV production in Scotland of tens of millions of pounds.

Mr Clements, speaking at a meeting of Westminster’s Scottish affairs committee in Dundee, said: “My worry about a channel is that it’s an analogue answer for a digital age.

“Actually, if we took the money used to set up a channel - when people talked from a Scottish Broadcasting Commission of £75 million - and you invested that in Scottish-based intellectual property, either as productions or co-productions, that would have a much more beneficial effect on the production sector in Scotland than the creation of a channel.”

He added: “Scotland had the chance to be the second centre for TV production in the UK after London.

“It’s now maybe fourth after . . . Bristol-Cardiff is one hub and Salford-Manchester is another and Belfast is coming up very fast.”

Ms Sturgeon, in a speech at the Edinburgh Television Festival in August, called for the BBC to adopt a federal structure, with a separate board for each home nation under a UK-wide board.

Meanwhile, the director of BBC Scotland told the MPs that he is determined to change audience perceptions of news and current affairs output after a survey found less than half of Scottish people think it is good at representing their lives.

Ken MacQuarrie, speaking in the same committee as Mr Clements, said the corporation is “concerned” about the finding.

But he dismissed claims that the BBC demonstrated “unconscious bias” during its coverage of last year’s independence referendum.

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