THE SNP is mounting a new push for the responsibility for broadcasting to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament. The move comes after the BBC’s annual report revealed that 48 per cent of Scots did not believe the corporation accurately reflects the country.

The report also included criticism from the Audience Council Scotland of an ‘‘Anglified perspective’’ in some of the coverage of last year’s independence referendum.

Yesterday John Nicolson, the SNP’s spokesman for culture, and a former BBC correspondent, told the National: “We’re anxious to see the full devolution of broadcasting to Scotland because if the Scottish Parliament can be responsible for press regulation we don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t be responsible for broadcasting.’’

His remarks were echoed by Scotland’s Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop: “The question of devolution and public service broadcasting should be explored, and we believe that broadcasting from Scotland would be best served by devolving responsibility for it to the Scottish Parliament,” she said.

The remarks came as John Whittingdale, the UK Culture Secretary, launched his green paper setting out a review on the future of the BBC.

At Westminster yesterday Nicolson quizzed Whittingdale on why the Scottish Government had not been consulted about the green paper.

Nicolson told The National: “The Scottish Government was not involved at any point in green paper. The Secretary of State says he will involve Holyrood, but never tells us when or how. His response was trite – something silly about it being a British broadcasting corporation and so there should be no devolution of broadcasting to Scotland.”

Nicolson also repeated his call for a Scottish 6pm TV news bulletin entirely put together by editors in Scotland and including international and Scottish news.

He said that would make more sense than the current arrangement, which sees Scottish news covered in a separate programme at the end of the national news broadcast.

“BBC Scotland find themselves in the very odd position where rather than trying to broaden their own news scope they’ve tended to want it to be kept narrow, which I find a very peculiar position for a news team in a national news programme,” he said.

“I think it’s absurd – I think there’s an entrenched provincialism in the BBC Scotland newsroom because of its restricted remit. And I think having the same remit that radio news has would be enormously beneficial.

“I think having to use proper news values every night at six would make it a normal newsroom.

‘‘I’m hoping BBC Scotland now that they’re freed from having to look over their shoulders all the time and that baleful influence of the Scottish Labour Party might find a little spring in their step and try to – using a horrible cliché – think outside the box.”

The SNP’s stance was supported by Blair Jenkins, formerly a BBC Scotland news chief and chairman of the Scottish Broadcasting Commission.

He said: “Germany has a highly devolved broadcasting system, Spain has highly devolved broadcasting. One of the things we pointed to in the commission was that all around Europe broadcasting tends to be much more decentralised than it is in the UK.

“Historically the UK has had an incredibly centralised broadcasting set of arrangements with London very dominant.

“All of us have tried to make inroads into that reality for years and years now, and I think there is a very good case for responsibility for broadcasting to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.”

Jenkins added that there were several strong arguments for broadcasting being devolved.

“I think it would reflect the fact that Scotland has changed a lot in the past 10 years. Broadcasting was originally intended to be devolved but was taken out quite late in the day by the then Labour government,” he said.

“Whittingdale’s point [referring to the British Broadcasting Corporation] was quite spurious – you could halve the BBC and have it operate a federal structure itself. If we are moving towards a federal UK, to a more substantial form of devolution, why wouldn’t you follow other European countries and have devolved broadcasting?

“I think that’s a very good question to which there isn’t a good answer – and John Whittingdale’s was certainly not a good answer.”

Whittingdale told the Commons that the review will look at whether the BBC should continue to be “all things to all people” or should have a more “precisely targeted” mission in terms of its output.

He said it would consider the “mixture and quality” of the programmes broadcast as well as the way they are produced.

“With so much more choice in what to consume and how to consume it, we must at least question whether the BBC should try to be all things to all people, to serve everyone across every platform, or if should have a more precisely-targeted mission,” he said.

“The upcoming Charter review will look at whether the scale and scope of the BBC is right for the current and future media environment and delivers what audiences are willing to pay for.”

In an apparent reprieve for the licence fee, he said a subscription model for paying for the BBC “could well be an option in the longer term, but would not work in the short term”.

The BBC said the starting point for the debate should be “how can a strong BBC benefit Britain even more at home and abroad?”

It added: “The BBC has embraced change in the past and will continue to do so in the future, and we will set out our own proposals in September.”

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