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Thursday, December 17, 1998 Published at 16:55 GMT

UK Politics

SNP promises homegrown broadcasting

The BBC recently rejected the idea of a Scottish Six O'Clock News

The SNP has pledged to create a separate Scottish Broadcasting Corporation if independence is achieved.

It says the service would be based on the Irish Broadcaster RTE and would create up to 2,500 jobs in Scotland.

Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond said the SBC would provide a better service to Scottish viewers and listeners for the same licence fee.

[ image: Alex Salmond: BBC's Scottish output
Alex Salmond: BBC's Scottish output "pitiful"
Mr Salmond said Scottish citizens paid out £170m in licence fees, subsidising the BBC in London to the tune of £86m.

RTE, he said, managed to run three TV stations and four radio stations on a budget of £136m.

Last week, BBC governors in London rejected plans for a separate Scottish Six O'Clock news bulletin provoking widespread anger north of the border.

An SNP report on broadcasting said that of the 2,468 hours of network news broadcast across the UK each year, on average only six hours comes from Scotland.

In addition only 4% of BBC network programmes were made in Scotland.

Mr Salmond insisted Scotland had been let down by the BBC and said the amount of Scottish output on the national network was "pitiful".

'Six' dissenter opposed to SBC

But an academic who resigned from the Broadcasting Council for Scotland last month in protest at the BBC decision criticised the idea of an SBC.

Professor Lindsay Paterson said Scotland benefited from the economies of scale offered by a major broadcaster like the BBC.

"The total cost of quality broadcasting in Scotland would rise if we had a fully independent Scottish Broadcasting Corporation," he said.

"We do benefit as part of the wider network."

He said a large broadcaster like the BBC had bargaining power when purchasing programmes than smaller broadcaster. And he said a small broadcaster could not afford the £600,000 it cost to produce an hour of quality drama.

It would be forced to buy in "lower quality stuff" to fill its schedules.

He said even a major broadcaster like the BBC had to "buy in a lot of rubbish" to fill some of its slots. He proposed that BBC Scotland should have greater autonomy from London.

In addition to producing its own main evening news bulletin it should be allowed to put together its own schedules by "cherry picking" from network programming.

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