Sunday, January 23, 2011

Who wants to "Watch with Alex"?

Are you sitting comfortably children? Then we'll begin:
ALEX SALMOND is preparing an audacious bid to plunder cash from television licence fee payers to create a Scotland-only channel to rival the BBC.

The First Minister wants to siphon off £75million a year from the UK pot to pay for the Scottish Digital Network (SDN), which would air local news and current affairs, homegrown drama and entertainment plus minority sports.
Taking on the BBC  is all very well and good but if we (ie the UK TV license-payers who would be paying for Salmond TV) are to get value for money then some serious research will need to be done first for what kind of market there is for "local news", "homegrown drama" "plus minority sports".


cynicalHighlander said...

Better than listening to the elmer propoganda machine we have at the moment of which North Korea would be proud.

Left-wing bias? It's written through the BBC's very DNA, says Peter Sissons

The Aberdonian said...

To be fair O'Neil, all four parties back a Scottish channel. After the SNP, the Tories are (surprisingly) the most vocal proponents. Here is their reasoning

Brocklebank of course used to be Grampian TV boss so he has some grounding in the issue.

To be fair, not much programmes tend to be made in Scotland and as Brocklebank et al note, broadcasting investment in Scotland is low at both commercial and public services. Not helped by the centralisation of ITV and its spat with STV which refuses to join the fold----

Even Mark Thompson has said that the BBC needs to raise its game in Scotland. He said that 10% of production should come from Scotland - hence why the Weakest Link is now made in Glasgow.

Sadly despite the acting talent, on the other side, Taggart is a shadow of its former self due to cuts. And Rebus is gone for the moment (although Ken Stott - who has paid a cadre of misanthropic Scots cops - decision not to continue with the role for the moment is contributory factor).

Yes, the "Beautiful People" live in London, but that does not mean broadcasting should revolve them.

O'Neill said...

To be fair O'Neil, all four parties back a Scottish channel.

But is there a real public demand for it or is those parties telling the public they should demand it?

The Aberdonian said...

There has been complaints about the anglocentricity and particular the M25 centricity of the broadcast media. Even Alan Cochrane - yeah him - complains about it from time to time although he believes the broadcasters should raise their game rather than have a Scottish channel.

Actually the stiffest opposition to a Scottish channel tends to come from the Scottish Press which wails about kailyardism, provincialism - usually from the same journalists who are quite happy to work for a "provincal" press. Probably because they feel their monopoly on "truth" might be threatened and of course their sales.

Maybe life in NI is terrible that you do not want to see it all that often on television :)

The late Caron Keating took all that abuse about her accent in Points of View for nothing - except maybe to improve the career prospects of Miss Bleakley.

O'Neill said...

But does the *public* demand it??!

There's an interesting parallel going on in your favourite part of Europe at the minute where one of the government's coalition partners is trying to remove reality tv shows from the screen on the grounds that it is damaging for 'national morale and standards"

They're probably right but that's a question for the public not the political elite to decide. if someone shows me that there is statistics to show a demand for the kind of channel salmond demands, then fair enough. If it's just politicians merely demanding what they think the public should be watching, then no.

Re life in NI, it's not that bad(:)), the local television, with one or two honourable exceptions, is horrendous in its parochial unprofessionalism.

The Aberdonian said...

The BBC regions tend to come over as parochial. Iain MacWhirter has suggested that this was because London deliberately underfunds to show who is boss. For this MacWhirter was apparently blacklisted by the Beeb from being invited to comment on its current affairs programmes for about a year. Only when Salmond made a song and dance about it in parliament did this (pro-Lib Dem) commentator suddenly appear again.

It is of course not up to the state to tell people what to watch or listen to within reason. However how do you measure public demand - was there demand for BBC 3 and 4 - the latter I cannot do without now. And was there demand to import the originals of Wallander when the UK had produced its own version - yet of course - no slight to your fellow countryman - the Swedish versions are seen as superior to the UK versions by the commentators anyway.

One thing that would sell a Scottish channel - guaranteed Scottish international football games for free at point of viewing. That is a gripe that the terrestial channels will show all England's matches but not the other home nations.

O'Neill said...

"However how do you measure public demand - was there demand for BBC 3 and 4 - the latter I cannot do without now."

Different times though wasn't it, when they could afford to take an indulgent risk?

I'm more and more inclined to cut the BBC adrift full stop and look at other kinds of funding, in which case this kind of question wouldn't arise.

Remove the licence fee, give us some kind of culture tax-break (0.5-1%?) which is to be invested as we see fit in sport, theatre, music and whatever elements of the BBC we want to support.

It's a system (ok minus the Tv support) which works elsewhere reasonably well- your own taxes wouldn't be going to subsidise the Orange Order any more for example!

I don't mind paying for my own cultural pursuits ( I don't even mind having to pay more!).