When First Minister, Alex Salmond, launched his Scottish broadcasting commission, in August, The Guardian newspaper posed the question whether Scotland should get its own publically-funded TV and radio service. On one side of the debate, Alex Bell, said Yes. But, Brian McNair said No……
It’s 8am on Friday and I’m listening to the authoritative tones of James Naughtie on the Today show on Radio 4. At 9am, Kirsty Young will be soothing me with Desert Island Discs. I went to bed after laughing along to the networked comedy, Still Game, then spending a more serious half hour of Newsnight with Kirsty Wark, followed by Newsnight Scotland. At 5 o’clock this evening, I’ll be tuning into Radio 4 again for PM with Eddie Mair.
Everywhere I look and listen in British broadcasting, Scottishness abounds. As he announced a Scottish Broadcasting Commission, Alex Salmond talked about an “English Broadcasting Corporation”, which “marginalises our creative community” and “denies our talent the chance to be successful”.
The debate about the future of Scottish broadcasting is an opening skirmish in the debate about independence which the SNP government has launched. The issue is straightforward. Is Scottish broadcasting stronger as part of a UK structure with access to the financial, cultural and human capital of 60 million people, or going it alone as an independent nation of five million? The SNP argues the latter, accusing the BBC of doing down the poor wee Scots, and stealing our rightful nine per cent of network spending.
It is, as we say up here, a pile a’ shite. Notwithstanding dips in its share of network commissions, Glasgow is still the third biggest producer of TV programmes in the UK, after London and Manchester. BBC Scotland has just moved into a