Hyslop calls for BBC to end ‘lift and shift’
Spending more of the BBC licence fee raised in Scotland on indigenous TV production could deliver an extra £30 million to the Scottish economy, Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said today.
Speaking at a Charter renewal consultation event she was hosting in Edinburgh, Ms Hyslop (pictured) outlined how re-aligning the current budget process would strengthen the country’s creative industries and wider economy.
Revealing for the first time detailed figures for the economic impact of this realignment, she said that one main benefit would come from ditching the current “lift and shift” system whereby staff are brought up from London to studio space at Pacific Quay and then return south.
“This is not what Scotland needs. We need investment that actually boosts our economy rather than BBC Scotland simply being the ‘name of the cheque’ for administrative reasons,” she said.
She noted that BBC Scotland spends between £40m and £45m on TV content, BBC Alba and the Scottish symphony orchestra. It receives £335m in income, including the licence fee and Scottish government support.
“For only 10% of this funding to be spent on sustaining our production sector is not viable,” she said.
“The economic impact of BBC output produced in Scotland would be far greater if the production processes were more embedded with local suppliers. With ‘lift and shift’ there can be little or no embedding within Scotland’s economy.”
Ms Hyslop, who has previously outlined her vision for the BBC to operate under a federal structure, argued that Scotland could emulate similar structures such one which operates in Germany and is, she said, more representative of the country as a whole.
“Scotland has the right to expect something truly radical from the BBC Charter review if the organisation is to meet the needs of audiences or support the development of a sustainable production sector in Scotland.
“We are calling for a federal BBC and for budgets to be transferred to BBC Scotland, which would allow independent decision making in relation to commissioning and editorial choices, staffing structures and the wider running of the organisation.
“BBC Scotland must have control over a far greater proportion of the £323m collected in TV Licensing revenues in Scotland. The BBC as a public sector broadcaster has the power to transform the industry in Scotland and that is why I am calling for BBC Scotland to have a much more representative share of the licence fee, which could see an additional £100m available for production in Scotland, supporting an estimated 1,500 jobs and contributing around £60m to the Scottish economy.
“Even small changes to the way the BBC Scotland budget is currently spent could generate economic benefits to Scotland.
“Simply realigning all of the £80-90m BBC Scotland currently spends on production in Scotland to commissioning content from indigenous producers could generate as much as £30m further spending across the economy.
“Although ‘lift and shift’ currently generates some economic activity, this demonstrates the scale of economic activity that could be supported if the full commissioning budget was spent in Scotland, and underlines the much broader, positive effect this could have – both on the economy and the long-term future of our creative industries.
“We understand the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has received around 200,000 responses to their recent consultation, which demonstrates the importance of the BBC’s role as our primary public sector broadcaster.
“It’s crucial that Scotland sets out a coordinated, reasoned and well evidenced argument on its asks as part of Charter renewal. From our discussions we have held with the sector in Scotland, we know there is support for our proposals and an appetite for positive change through the charter renewal process.”
Today’s consultation event was the latest of several engagements the Culture Secretary has held in recent weeks with the BBC, the UK Government and stakeholders to outline the Scottish Government’s expectations from the current BBC Charter renewal process.
The UK and Scottish Governments agreed a Memorandum of Understanding earlier this year guaranteeing the Scottish Government will be consulted in the whole process of charter renewal.
Ms Hyslop has also recently met with UK Government Secretary of State John Whittingdale; BBC Director of Strategy and Digital James Purnell, who is leading on the review for the BBC; and Director of BBC Scotland Ken McQuarrie.
Photo of Fiona Hyslop (by Terry Murden)