A proposed digital TV channel dedicated to broadcasting Scottish content has attracted the support of some of biggest cultural figures in the country.
The Scottish Digital Network – the main recommendation three years ago of the Scottish Broadcasting Commission, set up by First Minister, Alex Salmond, the previous year – has received the support of, among others, novelist, AL Kennedy, and actor, Alan Cumming.
The Scottish Digital Network would also include a large online presence. Earlier this year – following the deliberations of an expert panel convened by the Scottish Government – Scottish Broadcasting Commission chair, Blair Jenkins, called for the TV licence fee to be used to fund the Network.
Its budget has been estimated at £75 million a year.
The letter in the Sunday Herald states: “We support and call on others to support the SNP Government’s campaign for a publicly-funded Scottish Digital Network. It is now vital that Scotland has for the first time its own dedicated broadcasting service with all the cultural, economic and democratic benefits this would provide.
“We must have secure and sustainable competition in public service broadcasting in Scotland. We need new opportunities for our best writers, performers and film makers. We urgently require the new jobs and new skills that will transform our creative economy.
“We call on the UK Government to approve the creation of a Scottish Digital Network, funded either from the television licence fee as the Welsh service S4C will be from 2013 or from the proceeds of the sale of cleared spectrum after digital television switchover is completed next year.
“Scottish viewers should enjoy the kind of dedicated broadcasting service that is taken for granted in comparable territories all around Europe. There is clear audience demand, there is all-party support in the Scottish Parliament, and there is a glaring public service deficit in the current arrangements.
“Digital devolution should mean that in the age of 500 channels, at least one of them is Scottish.”
The signatories are AL Kennedy, James Cosmo, Martin Compston, Iain Smith OBE, James Robertson, Andy Scott, Jonathan Mills, Julie Fowlis, Craig Hill, Tim Barrow, Elaine C Smith, Iain Copeland, Seamus McGarvey, Diane Bell, Wayne Thallon, Ronnie Gurr, Iain Banks, Hardeep Sing Kohli, Alan Cumming and Mark Millar.
Meanwhile, also in the Sunday Herald today, Jenkins has penned the Essay of the Week: How can we stop our press from overstepping the mark in the quest for a good story?