Today the First Minister gave the Alternative MacTaggart at the Edinburgh International Television Festival to discuss the upcoming BBC Charter Renewal.
Yesterday I visited BBC Scotland’s headquarters at Pacific Quay and I made the call for Nicola to distance herself from Alex Salmond’s recent attacks on the BBC. It is vital that the charter renewal process isn’t driven by political ideology or grievance, it cannot be about settling old scores.
Throughout the Charter Renewal process I will be calling for increased investment for BBC Scotland and for the retention of the quotas system for commissioning. It is important that we have a sustainable BBC in Scotland, where skills are harnessed and quality programmes are produced.
However, the cost of setting up and maintaining a second Scottish TV and radio station (as called for by the First Minister) is likely to be considerable, especially at a time when the BBC budget is under attack from the Tories at Westminster.
Scottish viewers enjoy settling down to watch shows such as Great British Bake Off, Doctor Who and Strictly Come Dancing just as much as viewers in Liverpool, London and Cardiff. It is only right that we contribute to these great shows as well.
If we want to be truly bold and radical then we need to look at the challenges facing the BBC in the years ahead. This is not the creation of new ‘Scottish only’ stations but rather how BBC content is viewed and shared and how the corporation stays relevant in a time of smartphones, streaming and social media.
The renewal process is not, and never should be, about exerting undue political influence or attempting to apply pressure on editorial control. It must be about securing the best deal for licence fee payers.