Scottish Independence: Call for clarity on BBC

Margaret Curran wants clarity over the BBC's future. Picture: Donald MacLeod
Margaret Curran wants clarity over the BBC's future. Picture: Donald MacLeod
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Alex Salmond has been accused of “playing fast and loose” with the BBC, with Labour claiming the First Minister has failed to set out details of plans to break up the broadcasting corporation.

Shadow Scottish Secretary Margaret Curran hit out at the First Minister a year after he said he would split up the BBC if Scotland voted for independence, to create a new public services broadcaster for north of the border.

The Labour MP said 12 months on from his speech at the Edinburgh International Television festival that the SNP leader had “not provided any certainty” on what would happen to BBC staff.

Last year Mr Salmond said his party would “establish a national public service broadcaster based on the existing staff and assets of BBC Scotland”.

He added at the time that further details on how that broadcaster would operate and its continuing relationship with the BBC would be published “next year’’.

Ms Curran said: “Alex Salmond is playing fast and loose with the BBC.

Access

“A year ago he said he would break up the BBC and set up a Scottish Broadcasting Corporation, but since then he’s said absolutely nothing about how he would do it, and what it would mean for TV viewers across Scotland.

“People in Scotland watch more hours of BBC programmes than the UK average, but Alex Salmond wants to get rid of the BBC in Scotland while telling us that we will still be able to get the TV shows we enjoy and access to technology like the iPlayer.

“He’s playing fast and loose with the BBC and with the jobs that come with it.

“Over 1,000 people are employed by the BBC in Scotland and thousands more work in our growing independent production sector.

“Since his speech last year, he’s not provided any certainty for them and their industry.

“Alex Salmond can’t be trusted on the BBC and hasn’t answered some of the most basic questions over the past year.

“Will Scottish TV viewers be able to get all the content they currently enjoy, for free? Has he discussed any of his plans with the BBC? And will the SBC have the same global network that we currently have access to from the BBC?”

Protected

A spokesman for Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “The only threat to jobs and public service broadcasting in Scotland comes from members of the No campaign who are planning to privatise the BBC, and from the forced reductions in spending by BBC Scotland which will see 100-120 jobs slashed by 2016 .

“Scotland contributes around £320 million in licence fees, but by 2016 spending for BBC Scotland output for Scotland will fall to under £86 million.

“With independence we will protect public service broadcasting, ensuring that Scotland’s public service broadcaster serves the best interests of the people of Scotland, and is impartial in its view and independent of government, and that viewers have access to more home-grown content as well as continuing to enjoy programming they enjoy today.”