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BBC shake-up could deliver major economic boost

Published: 2 Dec 2015 10:15

Culture Secretary forecasts economic impact of fairer BBC spend.

Spending more of the BBC licence fee raised in Scotland on indigenous TV production could deliver a major boost to the Scottish economy, Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said today.

Speaking at a Charter renewal consultation event she was hosting in Edinburgh, Ms Hyslop expanded on her vision for the BBC to operate under a federal structure and outlined how re-aligning current spending would strengthen the country's creative industries and wider economy.

She said:

"Scotland has the right to expect something truly radical from the BBC Charter review if the organisation is to meet the needs of audiences or support the development of a sustainable production sector in Scotland.

"We are calling for a federal BBC and for budgets to be transferred to BBC Scotland, which would allow independent decision making in relation to commissioning and editorial choices, staffing structures and the wider running of the organisation.

"BBC Scotland must have control over a far greater proportion of the £323 million collected in TV Licensing revenues in Scotland. The BBC as a public sector broadcaster has the power to transform the industry in Scotland and that is why I am calling for BBC Scotland to have a much more representative share of the licence fee, which could see an additional £100m available for production in Scotland, supporting an estimated 1,500 jobs and contributing around £60 million to the Scottish economy.

"Even small changes to the way the BBC Scotland budget is currently spent could generate economic benefits to Scotland.

"Simply realigning all of the £80-90 million BBC Scotland currently spends on production in Scotland to commissioning content from indigenous producers could generate as much as £30 million further spending across the economy.

"Although 'lift and shift' currently generates some economic activity, this demonstrates the scale of economic activity that could be supported if the full commissioning budget was spent in Scotland, and underlines the much broader, positive effect this could have - both on the economy and the long-term future of our creative industries.

"We understand the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has received around 200,000 responses to their recent consultation, which demonstrates the importance of the BBC's role as our primary public sector broadcaster.

"It's crucial that Scotland sets out a coordinated, reasoned and well evidenced argument on its asks as part of Charter renewal. From our discussions we have held with the sector in Scotland, we know there is support for our proposals and an appetite for positive change through the charter renewal process."

Notes to editors

The economic impact of production spend in Scotland is greater the more embedded the production processes are with local suppliers. If the full £90 million were spent directly in the broadcasting sector in Scotland, this could generate an additional £30 million spending across the wider economy.

'Lift and Shift' refers to production which on the face of it purports to be carried out in Scotland, however, but where this is only the case for administrative purposes. Often to meet a quota.

Although 'lift and shift' currently generates some economic activity, this demonstrates the scale of economic activity that could be supported if the full commissioning budget was spent in Scotland. Compared with a 'lift and shift' approach, indigenous production will have a broader effect on the economy in Scotland.

Today's consultation event was the latest of several engagements the Culture Secretary has held in recent weeks with the BBC, the UK Government and stakeholders to outline the Scottish Government's expectations from the current BBC Charter renewal process.

The UK and Scottish Governments agreed a Memorandum of Understanding earlier this year guaranteeing the Scottish Government will be consulted in the whole process of charter renewal.

Ms Hyslop has also recently met with UK Government Secretary of State John Whittingdale; BBC Director of Strategy and Digital James Purnell, who is leading on the review for the BBC; and Director of BBC Scotland Ken McQuarrie.

The Culture Secretary hosted a stakeholder consultation event in Glasgow on September 24, bringing together leading figures from Scotland's TV sector to discuss the possibilities of charter renewal. At that event Ms Hyslop set out her proposals for a new federal structure for the BBC: Today's session was a follow-up to the September 24 event.

In August Ms Hyslop convened a meeting of Ministers from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to discuss the priorities of the three devolved administrations for public service broadcasting and the future of the BBC. In a joint statement Fiona Hyslop, Northern Ireland Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín, and Welsh Deputy Minister for Culture Ken Skates pledged to work in partnership to ensure the interests of the devolved administrations are central to the charter renewal process: