Yes vote 'will break up the BBC'

Scottish independence would break up the BBC with "devastating" consequences for firms north of the border which rely on the broadcaster for work, a leading Labour MP will warn today.

Shadow Scottish secretary Margaret Curran will use an address in Glasgow to raise concerns about the impact leaving the UK would have on the British Broadcasting Corporation.

The Scottish Government's independence white paper proposes setting up a new public services broadcaster, the Scottish Broadcasting Service, if there is a Yes vote in next month's referendum.

It adds that this new body would continue to supply the BBC with the same level of programming as BBC Scotland currently does, and in return viewers in an independent Scotland would have "ongoing access to BBC services in Scotland".

The Labour MP will insist that "breaking up the BBC" could have a "devastating" impact.

But Blair Jenkins, the chief executive of the pro-independence campaign Yes Scotland and a former head of news and current affairs at BBC Scotland, accused Ms Curran of misrepresenting the "exciting future for broadcasting and the wider creative industries in an independent Scotland".

Ms Curran will state: "Alex Salmond says that independence will bring new powers over broadcasting to the Scottish Parliament.

"But the first - and only - way he proposes using these powers is to get rid of an organisation that has the support of the people of Scotland and has served Scotland well for nine decades.

"This would have a devastating impact, not just on people across the country who want to keep BBC content, but the thousands of people whose companies rely on the BBC for work.

"While Alex Salmond promises access to all the shows we want - a promise he can't keep - he doesn't have anything to say about our access to the hundreds of other services the BBC provides day in and day out."

She will continue: "While Alex Salmond promises access to all the shows we want - a promise he can't keep - he doesn't have anything to say about our access to the hundreds of other services the BBC provides day in and day out.

"And when 15,000 people in Scotland are employed by over 100 independent film and television productions sector, with 60,000 jobs in total supported by our creative industries, we need to ask what happens to those jobs when the BBC no longer has an incentive to purchase increasing amounts of content from Scottish companies."

While much of the referendum campaign has focused on issues such as health and currency, Ms Curran will state that "people switch on their TVs, their iPhones, their iPads, every day and use BBC content".

But she will add: "I n the referendum debate so far, we've not properly asked what would happen to it. And why.

"Perhaps even more importantly, we've not asked about the impact that it would have on the many jobs that rely on the BBC in the independent production sector and more widely.

"Thousands of jobs, many right here in Glasgow, which are part of a thriving, dynamic and growing industry.

"Jobs that can - and should - provide new opportunities for many of the next generation."

Mr Jenkins said: "BBC programmes and services will continue to be available to audiences in Scotland as they are to audiences in Ireland and other European countries. To suggest otherwise is the classic Project Fear approach - ignore the evidence from elsewhere and dream up dismal predictions."

He added: " After independence, the television licence fee income raised in Scotland will stay in Scotland. That means many more programmes and many more jobs.

"The new Scottish Broadcasting Service will work very closely with the BBC on jointly commissioning programmes and sharing resources where appropriate. For Scottish viewers and listeners, it really will be the best of both worlds."


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