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Priorities for BBC Charter Renewal

Published: 12 Oct 2015 15:31

Culture Secretary meets with BBC Director General.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop today outlined the Scottish Government's priorities for BBC Charter renewal in a meeting with the head of the corporation.

At a meeting with BBC Director General Tony Hall, Ms Hyslop reiterated the Scottish Government's calls for the corporation to operate under a new federal structure and create new TV and radio channels for Scotland.

Her meeting with Lord Hall was the latest of several the Culture Secretary has held in recent weeks with key representatives of the BBC and UK Government to outline the Scottish Government's expectations from the current BBC Charter renewal process.

It comes in the midst of an extensive consultation exercise the Scottish Government is carrying out with the public and stakeholders across Scotland to inform its approach towards Charter renewal.

Following her meeting with Lord Hall in London this afternoon, Ms Hyslop 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 have made clear our proposals – both publicly and directly to key figures from the BBC and UK Government.

"But to reiterate, we're calling for a federal BBC, with at least a board for each nation that should comprise a mix of BBC staff and independent members.

"Budgets should be transferred to BBC Scotland, which would allow independent decision making in relation to commissioning and editorial decisions, staffing structures and the wider running of the organisation.

"We're also calling for the creation of a new TV and radio channel to support the demands of audiences and the TV sector in Scotland.

"These proposals must be supported by a proportionate share of the BBC licence fee, addressing the current mismatch between the £335 million income for the BBC from Scotland and the £190 million spent here, of which only around £35 million is spent on TV production for Scotland.

"From the discussions we have held so far with the sector in Scotland, we know there is support for our proposals and an appetite for positive change through the charter renewal process.

"We understand the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has been overwhelmed with responses to their recent consultation, which demonstrates the importance of the BBC's role as our primary public sector broadcaster. I look forward to receiving more information from DCMS on responses specific to Scotland, which we will be analysing through our role as partners in the process of charter review.

"I was pleased to discuss with Lord Hall today our proposals for the future of the BBC, and how these can improve the sustainability of our production sector and ensure programming is more representative of life in Scotland."

Notes to editors

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: http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/BBC-must-be-bold-and-catch-up-with-devolution-1d8d.aspx

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: http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Governments-meet-over-BBC-future-1bbb.aspx