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Agenda: Broadcasting in Scotland would face a grim future after a Yes vote

I have seen the television industry from every angle, north and south of the Border.

I care deeply about Scotland's creative industries and I'm concerned. They are vital to Scotland's future.

Let's look at the BBC first. The nationalists argue that we take £340 million in licence fees but only spend £200m in Scotland, conveniently ignoring the fact that we have access to £3 billion worth of quality programming.

The SNP White Paper proposes taking over the assets of BBC Scotland and creating the Scottish Broadcast Service (SBS) by entering into a joint venture with the BBC. The BBC would continue to provide shows such as Eastenders and Strictly whilst taking £40m of programming from Scotland.

Why on earth would the BBC want to do that? Scotland would be a foreign country so the best deal the BBC could strike for their license payers would be to enter into a straight commercial arrangement: clean, no hassle and no ongoing commitment.

SBS would have to pay for buy-ins to fill a schedule. Add to that the price of staffing and maintaining the Glasgow headquarters and all the sites around Scotland along with transmission and other outlays, and it's clear that there won't be much left to make programmes.

SBS will have to pay for a new television channel and a new radio station as well as meet ongoing commitments to projects such as BBC (SBS) Alba. It doesn't leave much to pay for new or innovative programming.

Broadcasting in Scotland is not simply about the BBC. Channel 4 broadcasts in Scotland and commissions many Scottish production companies. The SNP intends to honour the existing contract.

What happens when it runs out? The channel is a publicly owned corporation and the UK Department of Culture, Media and Sport may have a view. How is that going to go, I wonder? Of course, there is STV, which shares a public service remit with ITV. After independence would STV have to commission more independent production?

Scotland has a thriving independent production community producing shows for BBC Scotland and all of the networks. Most people wouldn't even know shows like Location, Location, Location, Bank of Dave, The Story of Women in Art and The Beauty of Anatomy are made in Scotland.

This is an expanding business, with the bulk of commissions coming from UK-wide networks. Channel 4 is 100% a "publishing house" while all other broadcasters are obliged to commission at least 25 per cent of their output from independent producers. The deal is for the whole UK. I know this because in the past I chaired Pact, the producers' trade association, and I helped negotiate the deal. Scotland would find itself in the same position as Ireland: out of the loop.

There is a commitment to commission away from London. This works well for Scottish producers. If, on September 19, we are faced with a Yes vote the knock-on effect would be grim. Existing commissions would be honoured but new shows would fair less well. The uncertainty would make commissioning editors nervous and, as is often the case, where there are one or two shows in contention, human nature dictates that the decision goes with the secure financial option.

The film and television industry employs people with many skills, including carpenters, caterers, electricians, hairdressers and painters. It also benefits the communities where we work and is an important part of Scotland's economy.

At a recent meeting, I overheard a (not very good) producer berate (an excellent) producer: "You are putting your business before the love of your country!" I've thought long and hard about that little passive aggressive outburst. Building a successful sector is all about making things better. That's what loving our country is about. I came home to work in Scotland because I love it. Television production here is on a roll. Let's keep it rolling.

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Arts and Entertainment

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