BBC Urged to Locate One of its Main TV Channels to Scotland

The BBC should consider operating one of its four main television channels from Scotland, according to the recommendations of an independent investigation – set up last year by First Minister, Alex Salmond – into the current state of broadcasting in Scotland and its possible, strategic way forward.

Says the Scottish Broadcasting Commission, any move would underpin increasing recognition by the BBC that it is too London-centric, in its operation and the way it reports news and current affairs.

Said commission chair, Blair Jenkins, yesterday, the location of BBC One or Two would be “absolutely marvellous”; BBC Three or Four, ‘significant”. He insisted any move would involve the relocation of a relatively small number of people – the “creative heads” rather than production.

He added that the recommendations were being made in the context of efforts by ITV to reduce its public service obligations – such as the production of news and current affairs – but continuing commitment by Channel 4 to public service broadcasting.

Indeed, the commission is recommending that Channel 4 should have a mandatory target for production from Scotland of 8.6 per cent, in line with Scotland’s share of the UK population, and that the channel should base one of its commissioning departments in Scotland.

Blair did say, however, that the timescale of BBC plans to increase UK-wide, network commissions from Scotland to nine per cent should be reduced from eight years to four.

But the BBC responded: “The BBC is already embarking on an ambitious structural change but there is also a Licence Fee settlement planned for 2012 so the details of funding arrangements after that date remain unclear.

“Care has to be taken so that, as far as possible, centres such as [BBC Scotland HQ] Pacific Quay become significant and sustainable production hubs – not just for the BBC but for the associated creative industries. This is not about quick fixes or hitting quotas for the sake of it. It’s important the BBC plays its part in developing mature markets for the creative industries outwith London. We look forward to working with all interested parties in ensure network production from Scotland is increased on a sustainable basis.”

In response to the commission’s recommendation that the BBC should locate a channel to Scotland, a spokesperson said: “Our focus is on strengthening the network commissionng process outside of London. For example, as previously announced, we are appointing three commissioning executives in entertainment, daytime and factual, based in Glasgow. This will make Scotland a significant commissioning centre for those genres across all channels.”

Read the whole report, here.

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