Forget the Scottish Six - think of Scottish 24

UNTIL quite recently, the argument about how much autonomy the media should have in a self-governing Scotland used to focus on one totemic issue: should we have a "Scottish Six"?

Yet the idea that there should be a titanic constitutional struggle over one prime-time broadcast news slot now seems, in the exploding multiverse of contemporary media, almost quaint.

The more pertinent question is: what would a "Scottish 24" look like? And, even if we wanted one, could we get it?

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The old argument against the Scottish Six made a direct correlation between broadcast news and political sovereignty. What's the point of establishing a filter that balances "Scottish" with "international" and "world" news, when Scotland's influence in the world is mediated through the UK? To be blunt: why have media like a nation-state, when you're not a nation-state?

The problem is, now that regime change looks likely in May, Scottish politics might well be out-running Scottish media. We'll have to start thinking about how an SNP-dominated parliament starts to press its demands - one of which will surely be the removal of broadcasting and media from the range of powers "reserved" to Westminster.

It seems only right that our radio and television services should reflect the sheer contemporary vitality of Scottish affairs - and it would be easy to lay the charge that this is inadequately happening at the moment. At the very least, in the current plenitude of digital options, we should be able to engineer at least one dedicated channel for Scottish arts, culture and science, as well as one channel for politics, policy and community. The whole question of their possible "quality" is being blown out of the water every day by YouTube, MySpace or forthcoming web TV platforms such as Joost or Miro. We are increasingly becoming the media and setting our own standards, rather than just consuming it.

Our model for these new channels might be much more like Al Gore's Current TV - encouraging audience co-creation - than the stuffy, top-down productions that typify our current broadcasting institutions.

A future, more autonomous Scottish Executive might be as interested in raising level of media skills in the population, along the Finnish model, as they are in distributing the same old media budgets to the same old media faces.

This is not to argue for some kind of year-zero dismantling of old media in favour of new media. But any observer of digital culture knows that so many of its projects are naturally civic-minded.

There's a new model of public-service media glimmering out there - you can see it in Ofcom's proposals for a "Public Service Publisher", which would give websites and games makers right to bid for state funds.

It would be wonderful if we could make bottom-up participation one of the arguments for media regulation coming to Scotland, rather than just shouting for the usual "Tartanising" of the familiar old media institutions. The resultant "Scottish 24" would surely be an appropriate expression of the "democratic Scottish spirit" we so readily invoke?

• Pat Kane is a broadcaster, author of The Play Ethic: A Manifesto for a Different Way of Living (www.theplayethic.com) and half of Hue & Cry.