KENNY MacAskill said the Yes movement should begin considering a campaign for a BBC licence fee boycott after the corporation’s director-general appeared to dismiss concerns he and colleagues raised about the service with him.

The former justice secretary and three other SNP MPs – Douglas Chapman, Angus MacNeil and Neale Hanvey – wrote to Tim Davie this month highlighting how they believed the service fell short. They enclosed a plan putting forward suggestions which included ending the licence fee and replacing it with a broadcasting tax set by Holyrood.

However, in his reply Davie robustly defended the broadcaster’s offering in Scotland and the level of investment. He blanked the MPs’ request for a meeting with him and directed them to speak to colleagues in Glasgow.

Asked by The National whether he and his colleagues now backed a licence fee boycott campaign, MacAskill told The National: “We stand by what we said. If there is going to be one and there is a clamour then it has to be prepared and organised. I don’t think that’s for myself or my parliamentary colleagues but it’s something I think the wider movement has to start considering.”

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The MPs’ plan of action for the BBC also included the devolution of broadcasting, a Scottish Government-funded BBC Scotland and consultation to improve engagement.

The row comes amid escalating tensions between the Yes movement and the BBC, as well as wider concerns about the broadcaster’s service for Scots. The BBC came in for criticism from independence supporters before the 2014 referendum, with protests taking place outside its Glasgow headquarters.

Trouble for the corporation also came last month after it planned to pull First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s daily coronavirus briefings. The decision was later reversed after a further protest outside the Pacific Quay offices. Since then, the row has not abated.

Earlier this week a leading media academic, Dr Eamonn O’Neill of Napier University in Edinburgh accused the corporation of living “in a bubble” and “sticking its fingers in its ears” rather than listening to its audience. It also recently emerged some of BBC Scotland’s most senior journalists are being axed following cost-cutting.

Politics presenter Gordon Brewer, as well as news anchors Bill Whiteford and Isabel Fraser, are among those leaving. Journalists Gillian Marles, Reevel Alderson, Kenneth Macdonald and David Allison have also accepted offers of voluntary redundancy.

The departures are among about 20 from the corporation this month, as BBC Scotland seeks to cut its budget by £6.2 million by the end of March. The new £44m BBC Scotland channel recently completed its first year, but viewing figures have been poor.

Replying to Davie’s letter the SNP MPs wrote back reiterating their wish to meet. They agreed to initial talks with Davie’s senior team in Glasgow.

“There has been trenchant criticism of BBC Scotland from a noted media commentator, as well as recent staff retirals and continued funding issues. Compounding that, rumours persist of the appointment of a BBC Chair who would be perceived as being wholly partisan,” they said.

“In these circumstances we are happy to take up your offer of a meeting with senior staff in BBC Scotland. However, we should add that our concerns are not simply with the Scottish section but with the BBC as an institution.

“In these circumstances we would reiterate our request to meet with you whether in Scotland or in London in early course. In the interim we await hearing from your Scottish colleagues.”

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Chapman said they wanted to engage positively with the BBC, adding a licence fee boycott was a last resort.

“It’s about opening dialogue with the BBC. They have a new director general and it’s time for a new approach and a clean slate,” he said. “As a nation we can’t go through what we went through in 2014 in terms of the negativity towards Scotland’s independence. We genuinely want dialogue to be positive.”

The MPs’ actions are not favoured by all colleagues. When their letter was published, SNP MP Stewart McDonald tweeted: “Trump is running a campaign to defund public service broadcasting in the US. We’ve got nothing to gain by running a parallel campaign against the BBC – no matter how frustrating you may find it.”

Chapman said he had not seen McDonald’s tweet, saying his party agreed and disagreed on some issues.

He went on: “Things Trumpian might be finished in two or three weeks time and I think we would all look forward to that.”

The BBC did not respond to a request for comment.