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  By Angela Haggerty
 
SKY's former head of programming and CEO of Channel 5, David Elstein, has warned that an "imbalance" in Scottish coverage from the BBC could become an issue in next year’s independence referendum and called for Scotland to have its own channel.
 
In a recent blog post on OpenDemocracy.net, the TV executive said it was "impossible" to discuss broadcasting in the UK without the BBC being at the heart of the debate and said it was time for a dedicated Scottish channel.

"I gave evidence last month to the House of Lords Communications Committee that is investigating how to measure media plurality," he said.  "What I did not emphasise then, I emphasise now: a channel run by Scots, for Scots and funded by Scots is overwhelmingly overdue, both as part of that process of devolving editorial authority, and – just as importantly – as an expression of the Scots nation."

Mr Elstein said that the BBC collected "well over" £300m from Scottish licence fee payers "but returns far less than that in terms of programme budgets and commissions." and said the imbalance was "crying out" to be rectified.

He said: "A bi-partisan Scottish Broadcasting Commission, appointed by the Scottish Parliament, reported in 2009 that there was a need significantly to upgrade the quality, extent and identifiably Scottish nature of broadcast content in Scotland.  A key component of the report was the recommendation that a dedicated volume of output be broadcast by a Scottish Digital Network.

"In the four years since the SBC’s report, there has been little progress on the Digital Network, which consequently already has a slightly dated air about it."

The comments come just days after the BBC Trust announced the launch of a 12-week consultation to gather views about the BBC's reporting of the independence referendum.  Mr Elstein noted that media regulator Ofcom was already putting pressure on the Trust to "find ways to offset its dominant place as a news provider by extending internal plurality".

He added: "Granting far greater independence to BBC Scotland is one way to meet this demand.  The bigger step – a fully independent Scottish network, funded by the licence fee – needs to be built above this, and can be delivered by a determined campaign launched as part of the independence campaign."

The former Sky programming boss said the BBC’s income - £3.6bn from the licence fee, plus another £1.5bn gross and £150m net from commercial activities – was controlled from London and warned that the UK's regions were not well enough serviced.

Mr Elstein went on to say that 2015 would be the year the BBC faced a range of pressures "over its scale and scope, its governance and its financing" as the renewal of its Royal Charter approached.

Last year the TV executive called for the BBC to be broken up after the scandal of the Jimmy Savile affair.

Mr Elstein wrote: "The arthritic response of the BBC to the Savile affair has exposed an unnecessarily complex management structure, a confused and confusing governance system, and an urgent need to break up the monolithic news and current affairs department."

Comments  

 
# xyz 2013-10-30 08:50
If it was not for the BBC there would already be be a tidal wave of support for independence.

When we are independent we must make sure that any major broadcaster is mandated by law to be impartial. Journalists who deliberately skew the news in a particular direction should find themselves out of a job in very short order.

BBC Scotland is run by Labour apparatchiks for the Labour party and that is a poison in the country as they cannot support anything Scottish as that would be against Labour party policy, controlled from London.

It occurs to me that after a YES vote we will still be paying for the pro Labour BBC Scotland. So how can we ensure that we get honest and impartial coverage for the Westminster election in 2015 and the Scottish parliamentary election in 2016?

There is also the small matter of the EU election in 2014, but that is before the YES vote in the referendum.
 
 
# Henderson 2013-10-30 08:59
Finally some sense emerging on the BBC issue in Scotland - fully support this kind of change. If we cant affect the BBC (and it seems we can't) then let us have our own digital network !!
 
 
# pomatiaH1 2013-10-30 09:07
It is strange that Labour and it's supporters, such as the BBC, haven't woken up to the fact that winning in Scotland won't be anykind of a victory.
Listening to the Tory Party Chairman on how they see the BBC and how it had better watch out for how it is funded after 2016 highlights that they are now on very shaky ground.
The Conservatives control the agenda.
 
 
# Marian 2013-10-30 09:07
Pro-Labour bias at the BBC in Scotland is an affront to democracy.

According to a recently retired respected BBC journalist the Labour party routinely influences editorial decision making in Glasgow by exploiting its well documented familial links with the senior BBC staff in Glasgow.

Scots are licence payers too and deserve better than the institutionalis ed pro-Labour bias at BBC Scotland.
 
 
# springster 2013-10-30 09:27
Call Kaye now having yet another phone in encouraging people to attack renewables. The usual 'Salmond's Fault' in there.

One idiot consultant attacked tidal because apparently it would be difficult to ... wait for it ... build a power station under the Pentland Firth.

I wonder if Kaye will have a similar phone in asking people what they think of the nuclear subsidy for EDF. Not looking likely as she has just claimed nuclear leads to reasonable energy bills.
 
 
# gus1940 2013-10-30 10:07
What else can we expect from the 'How Are You' program.
 
 
# Henderson 2013-10-30 09:48
The whole deal about the BBC in scotland is the ongoing sordid links with The British Labour Party in Scotland.

There is clearly in place a state broadcasting system which is denying a section of the population a voice by coverage choices and selective interview manipulation techniques.

This is now being identified by international broadcasters from overseas who have identified whats going on.

The BBC brand as a result is being affected by such observations and really who cares - they don't listen to any complaints on the matter anyway.
 
 
# indy2014 2013-10-30 10:16
Meanwhile, back at Fort Apache, Pacific Quay...

wingsoverscotland.com/.../...

If you're still paying for this propaganda, you need your head examined- seriously!
 
 
# theycantbeserious 2013-10-30 10:52
The last thing we need is to give the bbc in Scotland a bigger budget with which to beat us with! We need to get rid of this institution that is not fit for purpose here in Scotland and have a dedicated Scottish broadcaster that meets the needs of Scotland, its culture, languages, aspirations and its peoples.
 
 
# hiorta 2013-10-31 00:25
It's an ongoing disgrace that Scotland does not have her own broadcasting (and other) media.
Foreign control over what we might say or think is NOT any kind of democracy - or perhaps just the 'Westminster dilution' version of it.
 
 
# setondene 2013-10-31 11:56
Mind you, neither Sky nor Channel 5, both of which David Elstein worked for, have shown the slightest interest in Scotland. He's looking for ways to weaken his BBC competitors and, as far as that goes, I say good luck to him.
 

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