The SNP manifesto calls for an extra £100 million of BBC licence fee money to be spent on Scottish local and regional programming.
Arguing that this would better reflect the contributions made by Scottish TV licence holders, the money could be used to fund creative services in Scotland.
Like Labour, the SNP believes that the licence fee should be retained, with any discussion on how else it could be gathered – possibly by introducing the German household levy model – to be decided by the end of the next BBC Charter agreement, which is due to be decided this December.
Alongside the extra money, the SNP would seek greater responsibility over regional broadcasting. The manifesto says: “We believe that responsibility for broadcasting in Scotland should transfer from Westminster to the Scottish Parliament and we will support moves to more devolved arrangements for the BBC with greater powers and funding for the different national and regional broadcasting areas, such as BBC Scotland.”
Greater regional and local broadcasting could be in part funded by the additional £100 million, which the manifesto says will be earmarked for Scotland’s creative sector. Prior to the referendum last September, the SNP spoke of plans to set up the SBS – the Scottish Broadcasting Service – that would essentially take over the functions of the BBC in Scotland.
The SNP’s white paper at the time said that the licence fee would remain the same – it’s currently £145.50 a year for a TV Licence – and it would cover all running costs.
Last year, industry insiders said that transmission costs for Scotland, driven up by technical challenges posed by terrain and population distribution, would actually exceed that which is raised by Scottish licence fee payers by around £350 million.
It’s not clear if said costs would come out of the extra £100 million or if this would form part of a discussion between the BBC and a future UK Government, should the SNP enter into a coalition with Labour or a group of other parties. The same manifesto explicitly rules out a coalition with the Conservative party, which wants to carry on using licence fee money to extend the BDUK (Broadband Delivery for the UK) programme.