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									The Scottish Executive Submission to Phase One of
OFCOM’s Review of Public Service Broadcasting

                   July 2004
Introduction
The Scottish Executive context

While broadcasting is a reserved matter, Scottish Ministers recognise that it has
a central part to play in Scotland’s cultural and civic life. They take a keen
interest and are pro-active in engaging with Whitehall Ministers on broadcasting
issues of relevance to Scotland.

The coalition Partnership Agreement for a Better Scotland (PABS) states
support for the development of film and TV production within Scotland as a
priority action.

Scottish Executive officials are part of the DCMS-led BBC Charter Renewal
Group. Responsibility for broadcasting policy in Scotland lies within the
portfolio of the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport, and is led at official
level by the Cultural Policy Division. There is, however, close bi-lateral
working on the cross cultural/enterprise nature of the industry and skills issues
with Ministers for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning.

In his keynote St. Andrew’s Day speech the First Minister, Jack McConnell, put
culture at the heart of Scottish life and aspirations. The newly formed Cultural
Commission led by James Boyle will report back in June 2005 having
considered major issues of citizens’ cultural entitlements and the ways in which
these might be delivered. The role and impact of broadcasting will form part of
those deliberations.

The Executive is currently engaged in a range of developing partnership
initiatives with broadcasters in Scotland, particularly with BBC Scotland, which
create resources for and add value to its citizens’ educational and cultural
experience and participation.

The Scottish Executive is grateful to OFCOM for an extension to the June
deadline for response. This enabled us to take account of the response to
OFCOM from the Scottish Screen Industries Summit Group (SISG) which was
forwarded to you in June 2004.

Scottish Screen Industries Summit Group response
SISG was established to report to Scottish Ministers. It has acted as a high level
task group to make recommendations on the key actions needed to ensure
growth and sustainability for the screen industries in Scotland. Within that
remit it has looked closely at the impact of television broadcasting and
production levels in Scotland.

SISG’s response to OFCOM made six key observations, which the Scottish
Executive endorses and underlines. We will not repeat these observations in
full but summarise them briefly below. We wish to emphasise that the Scottish
Executive supports the SISG submission to you in its entirety as a useful insight
into the Scottish perspective on issues of public sector broadcasting raised by
the consultation.

This submission then follows the summary of these observations with some
additional points for your further consideration.

Summary of SISG response
  1. Objectives of PSB

To preserve and promote the national aspect of the Scottish screen industries, it
is essential that PSB regulation does not disadvantage the Scottish industry
compared with the English regions. Scotland has a distinctive national identity.
The preservation and promotion of this identity is a core objective of PSB.

   2. Production

To achieve the cultural objectives of PSB, it is important that Scotland develops
critical mass in production, commissioning and broadcasting. Without this,
Scotland’s contribution to UK PSB will be compromised, with a detrimental
impact on the objectives of PSB at a UK level.

   3. Funding

PSB funding models should ensure that Scotland receives a proportionate share,
but there is a need to determine the most appropriate method for identifying that
‘proportionate share’ e.g. population, viewing. SISG would welcome the
opportunity to work with OFCOM on defining the most appropriate model.

   4. Competition

We do not want to see a situation in which BBC Scotland becomes the sole
provider of Scottish-specific PSB in Scotland. OFCOM must ensure that
competition is maintained to ensure that the needs of the consumer/citizen are
met effectively.
   5. Programme Content

The Executive concurs with SISG support for a developing role for Gaelic -
with adequate funding - as part of PSB in Scotland. A robust solution is
required, which takes account of the potential impact on language and culture of
the developing multichannel environment as well as issues of ghettoisation, to
give the Gaelic community its own flexible creative space on its own channel
whilst continuing to afford it another PSB outlet for some of its output to reach
a wider audience.

   6. Digital Switchover

We concur that there is a need to place greater emphasis on the issues
surrounding universal access in Scotland with respect to digital switchover.


Further observations of the Scottish Executive.


   • Broadcasting is extremely important to Scotland’s national identity, and
     the projection of Scottish creativity and diversity of cultures, to itself, to
     the UK, and to international audiences. It should be recognised that
     Scotland is also a nation of regions with a rich and complex cultural and
     geographic diversity.

   • The Scottish Executive does not agree that failure to appeal to a wide
     audience calls into question the viability of regulatory and financial
     support. It concurs with the view that PSB should serve ‘the sum of the
     minorities’, so as to ensure access and quality for a wide range of viewers
     with diverse interests.

   • We acknowledge the challenges presented by further fragmentation of
     audiences across digital platforms and suggest that quality and relevance
     of content to a range of audiences will become more important issues in
     public sector broadcasting than viewing figures in determining success.

   • Scotland’s cultural identity and diversity would be better reflected
     through high quality programmes across all genres commissioned and
     produced by a thriving indigenous production industry. Scottish
     broadcasters are disadvantaged by the main commissioning bodies’
     location in London.
   • The consequent talent drain from Scotland is also a loss of talent and
     expertise to the UK. Many creative and skilled practitioners from
     Scotland are inevitably drawn to London and drawn into the London
     metrocentric constraints on commissioning and production. This in itself
     is a constraint on the range and depth of output within UK broadcasting.
     In addition much of the Scottish talent pool is dispersed internationally
     and lost entirely to UK broadcasting for large periods of time.

   • The re-location of CBBC to Glasgow currently being discussed would be
     a hugely significant achievement to redress these imbalances. It would
     build on Glasgow’s strengths – 20% of the BBC’s children’s
     programming is currently made in Scotland and there are the skills in-
     house and within the independent production sector to accommodate the
     range of production required across genres.

   • Our universities and art colleges are highly respected for the calibre of
     creative graduates produced with exceptional strengths in animation skills
     to build on. The significant influx of jobs in production plus the
     increased opportunities for independent production companies created by
     the location of commissioning in Scotland would reverse the talent drain.
     The readiness and infrastructural capacity of Glasgow to meet the
     demand would ensure early success and targets met by the BBC and other
     broadcasters in the effort to address UK public perceptions of London-
     centricity in programmes.




Cultural Policy Division
The Scottish Executive
July 2004

								
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