Referendum 2014
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Referendum 2014
The Scottish independence referendum and the debate about Scotland's constitutional future
Curated by Peter A Bell
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Licence fee pledge as minister sets out independence TV plans

Licence fee pledge as minister sets out independence TV plans | Referendum 2014 |
Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop outlined proposals for broadcasting in the event of a Yes vote.
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Do Not Adjust Your Set!

Do Not Adjust Your Set! | Referendum 2014 |
The nationalist position on the BBC has long been caught between the political need to reassure people that a valued institution will continue and their ideological desire to dismantle something that, for them, represents a shared British experience.
Peter A Bell's insight:

Let's face it! Blair McDougal is not the shiniest coin in the Tory purse that finances Project Fear. He genuinely seems to imagine that the BBC would casually turn its back of £320 million a year in licence fee revenue for no better reason than pandering to British nationalists' craving for retribution should Scotland dare to challenge the entrenched power and privilege of the British state.

Never one for being forthright and honest, McDougal fails to point out that a significant chunk of the £3.2bn he refers to is not relevant to Scotland anyway. Most of the £1.34bn spent on regional TV, for example. Or the biggest part of the £147 million that goes on local radio. If he is prepared to exaggerate the benefit that Scotland derives from the BBC by as much as one third, what other deceits might he be attempting?

Very evidently, this is not a man to be trusted.

He does not lie about the £320 million contribution that licence-fee payers in Scotland make to the BBC's coffers. But he is strangely silent on the matter of how little of that comes back to Scotland in the form of spending. Perhaps that's because he'd prefer that people don't know that less than a third of Scottish licence fee money is spent in Scotland. And that proportion is set to fall to little more than a quarter by 2016/17.

An independent Scotland would, in principle, be able to spend all of that £320 million supporting the arts and creative industries in Scotland. It goes without saying that, like other independent countries, we would buy in programmes from other countries - principally the BBC in rUK. But even allowing as much as 50% of licence-fee revenue for such purchases would still allow a very significant increase in the amount of money spent in Scotland.

It's not all about money, of course. We also have to look at the quality of service. Even as a lifelong admirer of the BBC I have to say that I am far from satisfied with the way the London-based corporation serves the people of Scotland. Particularly in the area of news and current affairs, BBC Scotland increasingly resembles the propaganda broadcasts of an occupying power rather than an indigenous public broadcasting service.

One of the great things about the referendum debate is that it has allowed us to loose our imaginations on what kind of Scotland we wish to see. We can seek our own solutions to the issues that face any independent nation. We can dare to be different. We can aspire to be better.

Or we can be driven to despair by the dreich drone of dour, soul-sucking, hope-quenching naysayers like Blair McDougal.

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