BBC Scotland resists SNPcall for independence from London

BBC Scotland has rejected a plea by the Scottish National Party for it be made fully autonomous from London and for broadcasting powers to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament, writes Hamish Mackay.

SNP deputy leadership candidate Nicola Sturgeon and SNP telecommunications spokesman Kenny MacAskill put forward the scheme, which they claim is vital to help Scotland stand up to the “cultural hegemony” of digital television.

The two MSPs want BBC Scotland to have full commissioning and scheduling powers – allowing it to opt into network programming while increasing home-grown content, and provide a way forward for Gaelic broadcasting.

In a paper, they say: “Built around the pillars of news and sports coverage, a distinct channel would be our window to the world, reflecting our people’s priorities and playing an integral part in everyday Scottish life. Broadcasting is the most powerful cultural medium, yet it is the only one denied to Scotland.”

MacAskill added: “As we enter a new age and new powers, Scots are fed up to the teeth with a diet of news about Beckham’s second metatarsal or whatever.”

Labour spokesman, Scottish MP Brian Wilson, accused the SNP of dredging up an old issue purely for the leadership contest.

He said the SNP’s vision would produce “an incredibly parochial view in which Scotland broadcasts to itself.”

A BBC spokesman said the corporation welcomed the SNP’s contribution to the debate on the future of BBC Scotland. It stressed there were no plans to operate a separate BBC Scotland channel and said BBC Scotland would be contributing more to the network in the future.

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