We'd all be losers if SNP ditches the gold standard BBC? - Ian Murray MP

Team GB is on electric form. It’s hard to keep up with all the outstanding Olympic performances – and even harder to understand the rules of some of the mesmerising competitions.

The BBC deserves gold for its Olympic coverage - why on earth would we want to get rid of the broadcaster, asks Ian Murray MP. PIC: Contributed.
The BBC deserves gold for its Olympic coverage - why on earth would we want to get rid of the broadcaster, asks Ian Murray MP. PIC: Contributed.

Fortunately, we have the BBC on hand to keep us up to speed.

Jumping between events with expert commentary and analysis provided by former Olympians, all anchored brilliantly by Alex Scott, Gabby Logan, Clare Balding and others. On one evening it was three Scots at the helm - Hazel Irvine, Chris Hoy and Jill Douglas.

If there was a gold medal for broadcasting, it would undoubtedly be won by the BBC.

And yet there are persistent attacks on the world’s best public service broadcaster from the Tories, who want to strip it of funding, and the SNP, who want to get rid of it in Scotland.

Last month, in the Evening News, SNP Culture Secretary Angus Robertson - the MSP who represents the cultural capital of Scotland – complained that the BBC ‘continues to spend less in Scotland than it raises from the licence fee’.

What an extraordinary distortion of the facts.

While the BBC raises around £325million from licence fee payers in Scotland it spends directly around £225million on shows made here, but that tells far from the whole story.

In return for our £325million, we get access to a staggering £4billion worth of BBC.

BBC One, which is showcasing the Olympics every day, has more than £1billion spent on it alone.

Under the current set-up we can enjoy popular dramas, soaps, entertainment shows, live sport, UK radio stations, the iPlayer and the children’s channels which helped so many families through the Covid crisis. Even the World Service.

Just £13 a month per household to get content such as Eastenders, Strictly, Fleabag, Attenborough, the World Cup and Euros, Wimbledon, Line of Duty, and the Ten O’Clock News. Not bad for a £100m contribution!

It’s called pooling and sharing resources across the UK, which is something that also happens with public spending – as this month’s financial accounts from the Scottish Government will again demonstrate.

It’s clear the SNP wants to shift our politics back to a tiresome independence debate – despite the fact our public health and economic recovery from Covid will take years.

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Astonishingly, SNP president Mike Russell is encouraging people to share a leaflet that scaremongers about the NHS, and SNP conference next month will make the baffling Faragesque claim that a border with England is a good thing.

As always, there is no honesty from the SNP about the reality of separation.

Leaving the UK would mean leaving the BBC.

The SNP’s Scottish Broadcasting Service (SBS) proposed ‘joint venture’ with the BBC to share all programming is a non-starter given the difference in size, so a commercial agreement would have to be negotiated as it does with other countries.

But with only around £325million to spend, how could the SBS afford to produce a world-class service or outbid Sky to show all Scotland games as they’ve promised.

And the iPlayer, as in Ireland now, would come with a monthly fee like Netflix.

So, we have a Culture Secretary who wants to deprive Scots of culture.

(Hazel) Irvine no more?

We lose the BBC at our peril but only if the SNP gets its way.

- Ian Murray is the Labour MP for Edinburgh South

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