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Labour claims breaking up BBC will be bad for views and creative industries

Scottish viewers will lose BBC programmes in the event of a Yes vote, according to former corporation director general Lord Birt.
Scottish viewers will lose BBC programmes in the event of a Yes vote, according to former corporation director general Lord Birt.

The Scottish Government’s plans to break up the BBC in the event of a Yes vote will come under fire today.

Labour shadow Scottish Secretary Margaret Curran will claim the move is unpopular “up and down the country” and poses uncertainty for burgeoning creative industries.

The Scottish Government white paper proposes replacing the BBC with a Scottish Broadcasting Service (SBS). The licence fee would remain and same and the SBS would continue to supply the BBC with the same level of programming in return for ongoing access to BBC services in Scotland.

In a keynote speech in Glasgow, Ms Curran will say the BBC is one of the most respected public institutions in Scotland and Scots do not want to see it replaced with SBS.

The audience will also hear that First Minister Alex Salmond claims independence will bring new powers over broadcasting to the Scottish Parliament.

Ms Curran will say: “But the first – and only – way he proposes using these powers is to get rid of an organisation that has the support of the people of Scotland and has served Scotland well for nine decades.

“This would have a devastating impact, not just on people across the country who want to keep BBC content, but the thousands of people whose companies rely on the BBC for work.

“While Alex Salmond promises access to all the shows we want – a promise he can’t keep – he doesn’t have anything to say about our access to the hundreds of other services the BBC provides day in and day out.

“And when 15,000 people in Scotland are employed by over 100 independent film and television productions sector, with 60,000 jobs in total supported by our creative industries, we need to ask what happens to those jobs when the BBC no longer has an incentive to purchase increasing amounts of content from Scottish companies.

“Strict BBC rules today mean that content has to be purchased from across the UK. After independence, others stand to gain where Scotland is set to lose out.”

Blair Jenkins, Yes Scotland chief executive and a former head of news at BBC Scotland, said: “BBC programmes and services will continue to be available to audiences in Scotland as they are to audiences in Ireland and other European countries.

“To suggest otherwise is the classic project fear approach, ignore the evidence from elsewhere and dream up dismal predictions.”

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