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The Scottish Government outlines proposals for transfer of broadcasting powers

The Scottish Government has unveiled proposals which would transfer broadcasting powers to Scotland.

The proposals, published by the Government today, is one of six papers by Ministers which aim to amend the Scotland Bill in order to support economic recovery.

The paper focusing on broadcasting highlights priorities such as the right to establish public service broadcasting institutions, involve the Government in future licence fee settling arrangements, have responsibility for approving licensing decisions made by the UK Government for local television stations broadcasting in Scotland, the ability to intervene in cross-media mergers affecting Scotland power to decide over which events must be broadcast live on free-to-air television.

Fiona Hyslop, culture secretary for Scotland said that the lack of power by the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament over broadcasting ‘must change’.

She added: "Our proposed amendments to the Scotland Bill will give Scotland a stronger voice on broadcasting. They will enable us to make progress establishing a Scottish Digital Network, which is a priority at Holyrood but an afterthought for the UK Government.

"We firmly believe that Holyrood should have the power to establish the Scottish Digital Network as a public service broadcaster - independent from government - with a focus on producing quality content. It should be publicly-funded, with the television licence fee the best possible source of funding - as recommended by the Scottish Digital Network Panel.

"We want to strengthen, not weaken, Scotland's broadcasting sector which is why we are calling for the right to approve future licence fee settlements. This will ensure Scotland receives its fair share of the £315 million generated each year by licence fee payers north of the border.”

Hyslop said that Scotland was ‘short changed’ over the recent licence fee agreement where it was not consulted on the funding of the proposed Scottish Digital Network.

"Scotland also needs a say on broadcasting decisions which could affect Scottish media companies,” she added. “It is our view that these decisions require the formal involvement of the devolved nations. The Scottish Government has consistently been supportive of local television and believes the Scottish Digital Network is the best way to support local television services in Scotland.

"We also believe that it would be appropriate for devolved administrations to have the power to add or remove events to the list of those which must be shown on free-to-air television for their nations. In Scotland, this might mean granting protected status to qualifying matches for major international tournaments played by the Scottish men's national football team.

"It is clear that current broadcasting arrangements are not meeting the needs of devolution in Scotland. We are proposing sensible and proportionate changes to the Scotland Bill which will improve accountability and responsibility for broadcasting in Scotland, to the benefit of all."