CULTURE secretary Fiona Hyslop has accused the BBC of being more interested in North Korea than Scotland.
She demanded a complete rethink over a proposed shake-up of the corporation to better reflect her government’s own vision and ambitions.
The SNP, which advocated a separate Scottish broadcaster in the independence white paper, now wants a brand new BBC Scotland TV channel and a second English-language radio station to be created.
However these ideas are said to have been shelved by the BBC in the face of hundreds of millions of pounds of savings it will have to make under a new licence fee settlement.
Ms Hyslop said she had been dismayed by BBC director general Tony Hall’s initial response to the renewal of its Royal Charter, which include launching a daily news broadcast in North Korea.
It is also proposing more broadcasts to Russia, India and the Middle East, and a news service for Ethiopia, as part of a “significant investment” in the BBC World Service.
New versions of BBC education, news and entertainment services in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are also planned. However, speaking at a creative industry summit in Edinburgh, Ms Hyslop said the BBC needed to do far more to reflect “Scotland’s national life and our outlook on the world.”
Ms Hyslop also called for the BBC to stop parachuting in productions from south of the border in order to meet quota targets, saying she wanted to see far greater support for independent programme makers in Scotland.
She told the Scotland Policy Conference in Edinburgh that the SNP administration would be using the charter renewal process to “ensure that the BBC takes a much more representative approach to commissioning and production from Scotland.”
She added: “We recognise the unique opportunity we have to work collectively to change the BBC and increase skills and expertise within Scotland’s television sector. Success would mean more programming produced within Scotland from our independent sector.
“We have ambition and we have a vision, so it was disappointing to read the BBC’s response. It sadly falls well short of our ambitions for the broadcaster in Scotland.
“Tony Hall called for a better BBC service for North Korea, but has yet to show how a better service and audience demands for Scotland will be delivered.
“I would say gently, politely and forcefully that there is more room for improvement.”