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Brown warning over broadcasting under independence

Gordon Brown says public broadcasting would suffer in an independent Scotland. Picture: John Devlin

Gordon Brown says public broadcasting would suffer in an independent Scotland. Picture: John Devlin

  • by SCOTT MACNAB
 

Former prime minister Gordon Brown has warned that public broadcasting in Scotland would be likely to suffer after a Yes vote.

The MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath said Scots contributed about £300 million to the BBC licence fee but got the benefit of most of the corporation’s £3.8 billion of output on radio, TV and the internet.

“If a separate Scottish Broadcasting Service – such as that proposed by the SNP under independence – tried to both preserve existing Scottish content and produce new popular programmes, it would quickly exceed the £300m licence fee income,” he said.

“This would inevitably result in either a significantly higher licence fee such as that in some northern European countries, the need for broadcast advertising on the state broadcaster as in Ireland, or in the government having to subsidise the Scottish Broadcasting Service.”

The former Labour leader was speaking at St Andrews University last night, at an event with Liberal Democrat peer Shirley Williams.

The SNP government has previously said BBC programmes such as Doctor Who were broadcast in countries all over the world, but Mr Brown said these “come at a cost”.

He added: “The Scottish Government cannot prove their claim that their separate Scottish Broadcasting Service would be able to afford to increase Scotland-specific content and maintain access to all current BBC programmes and deliver these at no extra cost to the Scottish taxpayer.”

A recent poll showed 86 per cent of Scots believed that if Scotland became independent, the BBC should continue to be available, compared with only 11 per cent who would want the BBC to be replaced by a Scottish public TV service.

“People in Scotland are more in favour of sharing when it comes to vital services – from pensions to the BBC – than the SNP gives them credit for,” Mr Brown said.

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