Nation Shall Speak Unto Nation

I came across this story about a review looking into setting up a public service broadcaster in Scotland shortly after my post last week concerning the Glasgow list. It has been sitting on the back-burner, percolating away and as I’ve been stuck for something to write here I thought I’d share my thoughts with you, perhaps generating a bit of a discussion and who knows maybe even some comments.

Whether it’s the interminable episodes of Question Time where the hour passes solely discussing matters of English domestic policy (with of course some final question about who the panel want to win come dine with me, or whether or not they are wearing tartan knickers) or a Reporting Scotland that only skimmed the surface of that thursday’s FMQs because they also had to find time to tell us about Mrs McGlumphy’s cat and what various Old Firm players are having for their tea, the level of coverage of distinct Scottish affairs simply isn’t good enough and I’m sure you remember the furore over the SNP’s exclusion from the “Leader’s debates” in May.

To give credit where credit is due though, the BBC may be seen from the above to be failing in its Reithian aim of informing the Scottish public, it is certainly still educating & entertaining, the recent series by @ProfBrianCox on the solar system, and the crowds at the St Enoch centre when Karen Gillan was there recently promoting Doctor Who are proof enough of that.

This could prove to be one of the early stumbling blocks for a new Scottish National Broadcaster (SNB), if competing with the BBC rather than replacing it in Scotland, then this new channel will have to appeal to commercial interests rather than the licence fee, it may struggle to come up with advertisers for a channel dedicated to the current events in Scotland and would certainly find it difficult to match the BBC if it chose to commission its own entertainment shows or documentaries.

There is one other area of the BBC produce that could help and that is their sports coverage, Hamish McDonnell of the Caledonian Mercury has on multiple occasions highlighted the poor treatment of Scottish rugby by the BBC (although home games for the Magner’s League are to be shown on BBC Alba this year), but just as snooker was introduced to the nation consciousness by a young upstart named David Attenborough at BBC2 in the 60s to attract people to new station, perhaps the SNB could try to use curling or basketball in the same way.

I think though, while an SNB would be welcome in the interim, the focus should really be on bringing about a successor to the BBC rather than a competitor, having the benefits of the BBC’s facilities and personnel in Scotland, as well as a share in the litany of BBC output already in existence and spot 101 on your EPG is probably going to be the only way the channel will be able to have a real impact.