Local Television Over Scottish Digital Network Takes Step Forward
The establishment of the Scottish Digital Network (SDN), which would deliver local television to rival the BBC's Scottish programming, took another step forward today.
In a report, published in January , the Scottish Digital Network panel recommended that the annual cost of the £75 million SDN should be made from the television licence fee. The SDN would be available throughout the UK but the content would be Scottish, with up to 20 local TV services.
Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop said today that a formal expression of interest has been submitted to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
"We firmly believe that a publicly-funded Scottish Digital Network is the best way to sustain and support local television services in Scotland. It would bring benefits to viewers in all parts of Scotland - not just the largest centres of population which are commercially viable - as well as meeting the need for choice in public service broadcasting in Scotland," said Ms Hyslop, addressing the Scottish Parliament's Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee.
Under the proposals, a new network channel would carry a mix of local TV at specified times of the day as well as a schedule of networked programming. The Scottish Government’s goal is for 10-20 local TV services to be in operation by 2015 with the first local services licensed from summer 2012.
"The main uncertainty, to my mind, relates to when a network will be established, rather than if it will be established," said Hyslop.
"The report's recommendations in relation to funding a digital network can only be implemented with the co-operation and agreement of the UK Government. My key priority, therefore, since receiving the Panel's report, has been to make the case for funding a Scottish Digital Network to the UK Government, in order to try to secure prompt agreement from UK Ministers about possible funding for a network."
"We recognise that the UK Government's view is that the core network for local television services should largely be commercially funded. However we do not think that such a solution is likely to offer significant public service benefits for viewers in Scotland. It is now for the UK Government to work with us to establish a digital network for Scotland, funded from the licence fee as S4C will be from 2013-14, or from the sale of spectrum once digital television switchover has been completed, which will then accommodate more localised broadcasting."