MacQuarrie makes case for the BBC in a ‘complex’ digital world

THE BBC performs an important role providing ‘authoritative, impartial and independent journalism’ in a complex digital world – according to its Scottish head.

Speaking this evening at Gaelic language college, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, on the Isle of Skye, Ken MacQuarrie said: “It can be as difficult to understand the digital world, to make sense of its bewildering complexity, as it can be to navigate it safely and assuredly. It is a world characterised by constant evolution and change.

“To me, as a broadcaster, that makes it all the more important that such evolution should not come at an unnecessary and unacceptable cost – progress should not mean that we lose sight of the values and the principles that have served us so well for so long.

“It is for that reason, more than any other, I contend, that the need for sources of information in which we can trust, in particular for authoritative, impartial and independent journalism in which we can trust, is as paramount today as it has ever been.”

Delivering the Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Lecture, he continued: “Most importantly, defending our independence and impartiality against any political, commercial, sectoral or pressure group interest is fundamental to the relationship between a public service broadcaster and its audience.

“That is why I believe the [TV] licence fee is much more than public payment for a service or for content. It is the contract which exists between broadcaster and audience. In exchange for an annual fee – currently £145.50 – yes you’ll get the full range of BBC TV and radio services, online and iPlayer, the SSO, Children in Need and much, much more. But most importantly, what you will get is a broadcaster in whose voice you can trust. What you get is a relationship built on trust.”

Ken MacQuarrie became Director of BBC Scotland in April three years ago. He had been Controller since April 2004 and Head of Programmes since 2000.