TV cash subject to ‘the imperial power’ of BBC in London, MSPs told

Waterloo Road: Moved up to Scotland to die

By a reporter

A leading film and TV pressure group has demanded that TV licence fee money raised in Scotland should be spent here.

Independent Producers Scotland (IPS), which represents more than 40 Scottish production companies, submitted evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s education and culture committee.

John Archer
John Archer

Chairman John Archer – who runs his own independent production company in Glasgow – told MSPs that Scotland was treated as a colony by the “imperial power” of BBC headquarters in London.

He called for the BBC to be re-structured on a federal basis.

The Holyrood committee has begun to take evidence on the renewal of the BBC Charter, due in 2017 and which is being planned currently by the UK Culture Secretary John Whittingdale MP.

The Scottish Government is pressing for more licence fee income to be spent within Scotland. It is reckoned that the BBC spends little more than half of the £320m raised in Scotland actually in Scotland. There is evidence that improved spending would help sustain a much stronger production base in Scotland, where a growing number of independent companies rely on the BBC and other broadcasters for programme commissions,


The IPS chairman said that Scottish broadcasting is “chronically undeveloped”.

He added: “We are subject to the imperial power of London.

“We are a colony, and I think we are in the position that Churchill was after the Second World War when he said we can’t let the colonies rule themselves, we have to control them.

“I think we deserve better. I don’t think the BBC in London ‘get’ the new Scotland, I think we need a radical change and shift in emphasis.”

“Scotland should decide what is made here. Money does give you power.

“Nobody at BBC Scotland can say yes to a network production, that’s terrible.”

Scottish culture minister Fiona Hyslop MSP: Pressing for more BBC money
Scottish culture minister Fiona Hyslop MSP: Pressing for more BBC money

Producers are wary of BBC claims that a greater proportion of network expenditure comes to Scotland, mainly because of the practice of “lift and shift” whereas network programmes such as Waterloo Road and The Weakest Link have been moved north, with no real value added or created.

Mr Archer went on to criticise the current practice of “lift and shift”, lifting up programmes such as The Weakest Link and Waterloo Road, and shifting them to Scotland.

He described this practice as “like a dangerous drug” which BBC bosses need to come off. These programmes “came to Scotland to die”, he alleged.

“They didn’t leave any residue – producers went home to London and the people who worked on them here were left looking for other work.”


The Committee continues to take evidence at Holyrood next week and will report before the current consultation period closes. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop have both pressed Mr Whittingdale to enforce a greater balance of BBC spending outside London, and particularly in Scotland as well as the other nations and regions.

The federal solution is also supported by the National Union of Journalists, although its Scottish organiser Paul Holleran told MSPs the fundamental issue remains getting access to funding out of London, whatever the structure of the BBC.

IPS is also lobbying the Scottish Government to support greater investment in the screen industries, and wants Creative Scotland and Scottish Enterprise to do more to sustain the industry. The film lobby has been campaigning for Scotland to have its own custom-built studio for many years.


  1. Sorted, thanks for additional clip GA.
    Very important issue, even if we look at economics alone. Proper share of spending would have a massive positive impact on Scottish skills and jobs.

  2. Like all other ex colonies, at some point in time Scotland will need to start ignoring the reserved powers nonsense and behave like a grown up country. It is surely not beyond us to set up a Scottish broadcasting company and tell the BBC to sling their hook. Many other liberating things would also be possible, like an independence bill. Draft it now, test it at May’s election.

    • Alf’s point is worth examining in more detail.

      I can think of where this has happened in the past with printed media. The first thing the british press / state broadcaster and establishment do is to discredit the producers of news that does not come from an establishment owned or run source. In fact they go further, stating it sides with undemocratic and shadowy extremists.

      Why, they know the game is over for them if there was such a thing as a free and impartial press. If there had been a free and impartial press in place in Scotland in 2014, we would currently negotiating the final terms and conditions for doing the UN and EU and saying bon voyage to ruk.

      An example of discrediting alternative source of news currently is attacks on Wings Over Scotland today by the herald and this site by others in the past.

      As for an SBC, I pay for that!

  3. It’s high time we had a weekly Scottish QT on TV.

    UK TV QT is supposed to be a BBC Scotland and we already have Brian’s Big Debate on radio (albeit at lunchtime when everybody is out at work).

    So the organisation is there to create a weekly Scottish QT without too much effort and cost.

    Wouldn’t it be interesting to have on the panel over and above MPs, MSPs and members of the MSM representatives from the likes of Newsnet, Wings, Bella Caledonia, Munguin, Lallans PW and WGD.

    As regards other political coverage every wednesday The Daily Politics with Brillo has a 30 minute preview of PMQs then the actual live PMQs followed by a 30 minute review thereof.

    We in Scotland on thursday’s only get the bare 30 minutes of FMQs followed by a few seconds of closing remarks by Brian Taylor before he hands over to Brillo in London for another 30 minutes of WM waffle. Why can’t we have similar coverage of FMQs as we get for PMQs plus more extensive coverage in the evening on news bulletins and on SNPbad 2016 at 10.30 on BBC2.

    While WM’s monthly Scottish Questions is shown live during the day and repeated late at night I doubt if it has a high viewing figure – this should also get more extensive coverage.

  4. Proff John must be licking his lips. Well done John the chickens are comin’ home tae roost. SBC and Independence within the “next few years”.

  5. Would you pay for a car you’re not allowed to drive , get to the basics, it’s a Tax! a Tax! but without representation
    The Tax, which is paid to Westminster and the then Government of the day distributes some of it to the BBC as it sees fit
    It is not, repeat NOT a licence fee for receiving the BBC, no matter how much they call it that, if it were it would be paid directly to the BBC
    This TAX is, and always has been disproportionately unfair to Scotland, if this were America, Pacific Quay would be being thrown into the Clyde by now but Scots have been programmed for so long to accept dominance by another country and treated like a colony Jockhome syndrome still persists

    But help is at hand, and here it is, stop paying for something we don’t get the use of
    To pretend that every Scot is on the edge of their seats to see Eastenders or Dr Who and it might be withdrawn at the whim of the BBC is an old and stupid threat and demonstrates the validity or more to the point lack of it for their argument
    If the BBC is to be relevant in Scotland it requires the British Government to intervene, and do we think it’s going to do that, ( answers on a postcard to Hughie Green “Deceased”)

    Don’t pay the TAX!….. What are they going to do about it?….. Give us a row

  6. gus1940

    Brians big debate is no more. A Mr “haud on a minute” Brewer has now taken that spot on a Friday so he can keep the natives in their place!!

  7. I fear that the BBC in Scotland is an institution that the Westminster elite will not let go of. They are only too aware of the subtle and pervasive cultural and political dominance the state broadcaster helps to maintain.

    While granting our own Question Time, a soap set in Scotland, or a ‘flagship’ political programme like Scotland 2015, these are morsels constrained and calculated to keep us merely regional.

  8. “TV licence fee money raised in Scotland should be spent here.” strikes me as a simplistic concept and, given where it originates, somewhat self-interested.

    The main flaw is that it seems to ignore what viewers want to watch. My guess is that most licence payers would like to see the licence fee sourcing programmes of decent quality that command sizeable audiences. The audience for Scotland 2016 doesn’t match the average attendance at Ibrox.

    Following the suggested mantra, it begs the question of how Scottish viewers get access to programmes like “The Night Manager” since that would seem to require sending money furth of Scotland.


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