Former BBC Director General calls for Broadcasting Powers for Holyrood

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GENERAL…
The former Director General of the BBC, Greg Dyke, has voiced his support for broadcasting powers to be given to Holyrood.

Mr Dyke said that the creation of a Scottish network channel would have value but would require public funding.  However Mr Dyke suggested that a Scottish parliament with revenue raising powers could allow this to happen.

Mr Dyke was speaking at a conference in Glasgow on how to advance plans for a separate Scottish television channel – the Scottish Digital Network.  Two years ago a report called for a new digital TV channel for public service broadcasting to be set up in Scotland.

Earlier, when speaking on BBC Radio Scotland the former BBC chief had said:  “I think it’s about choices. We live in a world where there are difficult choices to be made and if this is seen as important in Scotland, culturally, economically, journalistically and as part of the democratic process, then maybe Scotland has to find the money.”

At an estimated cost of £75 million Mr Dyke doubted whether advertising revenue could fund the channel but argued that fiscal autonomy could help and added: “If the basis of funding in Scotland was to change, if Scotland was to collect its own revenue, which I know is one of the things the Government up here is pushing for, then maybe.”

It is unlikely that Holyrood would be given any of the current TV licence fee.

Control over broadcasting currently rests with Westminster.  Supporters of the current set up argue that it should remain so in order to maintain uniform broadcasting regulations and a single licence fee.  However critics will point out that these regulations led to the removal of the parties of government in the devolved administrations from participating in the recent general election debates.

The aim of the new Scottish channel would be to complement the existing broadcasters – BBC Scotland and STV. It would provide much needed public service competition for the BBC but would not undermine STV’s commercial viability.

In 2006 Greg Dyke also voiced support for a ‘Scottish Six’ but explained that he had faced opposition from, among others, Labour MP John Reid.