Scottish Parliament given scrutiny powers over BBC

Picture: John Devlin
Picture: John Devlin
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Holyrood will have the power to hold BBC chiefs to account for the corporation’s performance north of the border, as part a new Royal charter unveiled today.

But it stops short of handing full responsibility for broadcasting to Scotland in line with SNP demands.

Alex Salmond was among the Nationalist leaders who criticised the corporations’s news coverage of the 2014 independence referendum, claiming it was biased against the Yes campaign. The BBC’s Glasgow HQ was even the scene of demonstrations s by angry Nationalist campaigners.

But the new charter today states: “The BBC should reflect the diversity of the United Kingdom both in its output and services. In doing so, the BBC should accurately and authentically represent and portray the lives of the people of the United Kingdom today, and raise awareness of the different cultures and alternative viewpoints that make up its society.

READ MORE: Scottish Six to be ‘ruled out’ by new BBC Charter

“It should ensure that it provides output and services that meet the needs of the United Kingdom’s nations, regions and communities.”

The charter does not make any specific reference to a “Scottish Six” news bulletin to replace the current UK-wide programme which has also won the backing of the Scottish Government.

Holyrood and other devolved legislatures will have new powers to call the BBC before its committees. They will also be able to demand the BBC to provide reports to ensure the corporation is delivering for the nations.

MSPs will now be in a position to “provide challenge should this delivery not be as expected.”

The post-referendum Smith Commission recommendations have been written into the charter and agreement in full ensuring that the devolved administrations will have a role in holding the BBC to account for its performance in the nations in the BBC’s annual report and accounts.

A greater commitment to ensure that more shows are commissioned actually made outside of London with tough new quotas for this.

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said: “I am confident that this Charter and Agreement will deliver meaningful change in the BBC’s provision for the nations.

“For the first time the BBC will have to deliver against an operating licence for each nation. And crucially the devolved governments have the ability to hold the BBC to account for their delivery through the devolved legislatures.”

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