Mobile phone spectrum identified as possible funding source for planned Scots TV channel

REVENUE from the sale of 4G mobile phone spectrum could help fund the creation of a digital TV channel dedicated to broadcasting Scots content.

The possibility is contained within a Scottish Government report – published on Monday – on Scotland’s digital future.

Four years ago, the Scottish Broadcasting Commission – set up the previous year by First Minister, Alex Salmond – recommended the creation of the Scottish Digital Network – part digital TV channel, part online presence – dedicated to broadcasting Scots content.

But despite enjoying unanimous support from the Scottish Parliament, it has yet to be created; including in the face of calls that Westminster should allocate a portion of the TV licence fee towards its then estimated £75 million-a-year budget.

Media coverage of the report – ‘the first annual progress report and update 2012′ – tended to concentrate on the estimated 15,000 new jobs that might be created over the next 15 years in Scotland by investment in the country’s broadband infrastructure.

Yesterday, though, Michael Blackley – the Scottish Daily Mail’s Scottish political reporter – picked up a section of the report about 4G and how it might fund “a new ‘Tartan TV’ station to showcase drama, sport and music produced in Scotland”.

Says the report: “The switchover from analogue to digital television in Scotland was completed on 21 June 2011.

“As part of the opportunities offered by the greater availability of electro-magnetic spectrum resources for terrestrial broadcasting, the Scottish Government has been pressing for implementation of the recommendation by the Scottish Broadcasting Commission for a Scottish Digital Network on free-to-air digital terrestrial television, funded from licence fee resources (or possibly as an interim measure, from revenue from the sale of 4G licences once digital switchover is complete).

“In the context of the Scotland Act 2012 the Scottish Government proposed amendments to give the Scottish Parliament statutory powers to establish public service broadcasting institutions, which would fulfil the legislative requirement to establish the Scottish Digital Network, in the event the UK Government was unwilling to support such a measure.”