ALEX Salmond has pledged to break up BBC Scotland under independence and create a new national broadcaster that utilises the corporation's existing staff and assets.

The First Minister said in a speech at the Edinburgh International Television Festival that a new public sector broadcaster would be modelled on Ireland's RTE station if his Government wins the 2014 referendum.

The new Scottish broadcaster would still take popular BBC programmes such as EastEnders but have a more distinctive voice through nationally focused shows, added Mr Salmond, citing the success of the Gaelic-language channel BBC Alba.

Speaking at the event for the first time, the SNP leader said: "We'd establish a national public service broadcaster based on the existing staff and assets of BBC Scotland. Further details on how that broadcaster would operate and its continuing relationship with the BBC will be published next year."

He claimed viewers north of the Border were being short-changed by a system that had failed to adapt to either the digital revolution or devolution. Broadcasting policy is still reserved to Westminster.

Mr Salmond added: "In Scotland we have protected free education and the NHS, and we are enacting world-leading climate-change legislation. We can also take responsibility for protecting and enhancing the values of public service broadcasting.

"Television forms part of our wider vision for an independent Scotland to be a fairer and more prosperous nation. A stronger broadcasting sector provides major economic benefits. Only then will broadcasting truly be Scotland's window on the world – bringing us the best of international content and allowing us to show the world what Scotland can create."

Opponents attacked Mr Salmond's lack of clarity and shadow Scottish Secretary Margaret Curran warned it could threaten some of the 60,000 culture jobs that contribute £5 billion to the country's economy.

Ms Curran said: "Alex Salmond told us that he's going to break up the BBC, with no details about how he would do it or what it means for Scottish viewers or the people whose jobs rely on our TV industry.

"On Thursday night, millions of people tuned in to see the first episode of Waterloo Road, filmed in Greenock, broadcast across the UK. The question the First Minister needs to answer isn't whether EastEnders will be available in an independent Scotland, it's whether programmes like this will be made in Scotland, bringing jobs and growth."

Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw dubbed the speech "another nonsensical outburst about how everything will be better in a separate Scotland".

In 2008, the Scottish Broadcasting Commission was set up by the Scottish Government, which said that up to £75m of public money should be spent on a new, high-quality Scottish TV channel. The body was led by Blair Jenkins, a former BBC Scotland head of news, who now runs the Yes Scotland campaign.

A spokesman for BBC Scotland said: "Possible future structures for broadcasting in Scotland in the context of the current independence debate are not something the BBC will comment on at the moment.

"As an organisation the BBC is impartial, and in this case the BBC is linked to the issue itself."