By Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs

AS this year’s Edinburgh TV Festival draws around 2,000 professionals from across the globe, I will be speaking at the opening reception tonight about the continued growth and success of the Scottish screen sector.

On the day we mark a year since the launch of Screen Scotland, it is fitting to highlight the Scottish Government’s support for this thriving industry.

Viewers in Scotland are glued to the box for an average three hours 33 minutes per day – across news, sport and entertainment. And authentic, fresh stories are the ones which resonate the most.

Even with innovations in digital, television is a powerful medium for entertainment, the sharing of information and education. An economic game-changer with the emergence of giants like Netflix and Amazon, television also holds cultural sway over society and how we tell our stories.

It’s great to see Screen Scotland partnering with the TV Festival this year to link industry executives with a host of talent our country has to offer. Screen Scotland has quickly become a cornerstone of this country’s vibrant industry, distributing a significant increase in funding from the Scottish Government.

An expanded £2 million-a-year Production Growth Fund is already attracting inward investment with shows like four-part crime drama The Victim, which screened on BBC1 earlier this year. Made by STV Productions, this explosive courtroom drama starring Kelly Macdonald and John Hannah received £250,000 from the Production Growth Fund and will be seen by an even bigger audience as this Autumn’s flagship series on the BritBox streaming service.

The new £3m-a-year Broadcast Content Fund has given awards to 16 production companies across the country to create exciting new TV content across genres. And there’s more to come.

We’re not the only ones to invest in Scotland on the screen. The BBC has pledged to invest £39m north of the Border alongside the launch of its dedicated BBC Scotland channel earlier this year, and Channel 4 will open a new creative hub in Glasgow before the end of 2019.

A skilled workforce is vital to this sector and our agencies have backed some important training initiatives, which I witnessed when I visited the set of TV drama Guilt recently. This gritty drama, starring Line of Duty’s Mark Bonnar and Jamie Sives from Game of Thrones, will be on our screens later in the year. I was encouraged to see how Forres-based production company Happy Tramp North had invited young people to shadow the cast and crew to gain experience, while filming in Edinburgh.

Screen Scotland will also shortly be announcing the fifth year of a successful training scheme at Outlander, where more than 100 trainees have taken up roles from set-building to costume design, all building a stronger crew base.

It’s encouraging to see our funding unlocking opportunities in the industry for people of all backgrounds.

But these productions, while essential for job creation and building talent, are also a huge boost to our economy. The £3.7m investment from the Production Growth Fund has resulted in an estimated £60m spend in this country.

Strengthening our industry causes ripples to other sectors – just look at the “Outlander Effect” on tourism. Visitor numbers have soared at the historic locations used in the series since it first hit our screens five years ago.

There’s no doubt it’s an exciting time for the television industry in Scotland, and I look forward to seeing what more can be achieved through this fantastic story-telling medium.

It might be known as the “small screen” but it has an enormous impact.