Christine Jardine: Is SNP offering calculated to fail, or attempt to clip BBC's wings?

My interest rapidly became incredulity as I read the SNP’s self proclaimed ‘vision’ for the BBC in Scotland.

While the idea of more devolved decision making and additional jobs is attractive, the SNP’s full proposals are no more viable than when they have been previously, and unsuccessfully, promoted.

And this time it’s difficult to avoid the suspicion that the motivation is more about making a political point than any kind of broadcasting progress.

For example, in this re-heated offering Fiona Hyslop talks of “full control of the money raised in Scotland through the licence fee” and claims it would allow BBC Scotland to deliver extra investment and programmes.

But she does not explain how we could continue to watch existing BBC programmes and channels if we kept all the cash rather than contribute?

What about BBC1 for example? Wimbledon coverage? A host of award winning dramas? Radios 1 to 6?

Would the BBC simply say: “Sorry you didn’t contribute, We can’t afford to give you them for free. If you want to see them you’ll have to pay a premium.”

It’s even conceivable that if the SNP Government pockets the cash and puts the Scottish Parliament in charge it might be the end of the BBC as we recognise it. How is that an improvement?

It’s all so reminiscent of the much heralded proposals for a Scottish Digital network put together in the first decade of this century by Blair Jenkins, who later went on to lead the Yes Campaign in the referendum.

That proposal received a resounding NO. It was prohibitively expensive.

And what about the flagship plan for a Scottish Six O’clock News? Why is that not a shoo-in?

Again it’s a proposal the BBC have already examined in detail and found wanting, offering the now defunct Newsnight Scotland instead.

In all of this it’s difficult to escape the conclusion that what we are being offered is something the SNP almost expect to be rejected again, thus allowing another grievance against the BBC to be cultivated.

Or if it’s accepted will a Scottish Parliament with overall control of Scottish public broadcasting ensure that it toes the party line, rather than maintain its objectivity come a second independence referendum.

Either way they are not proposals I think we should relish.

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