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And now, time for the news

Brian Taylor | 16:49 UK time, Monday, 8 September 2008

As with the best of popular telly, there is something for everyone. In the report of the Scottish Broadcasting Commission, that is.

For Alex Salmond, who set up the commission, there is the call for a new distinctive digital channel which could mean more production in Scotland and, hence, more jobs.

For UK Ministers, there is the assertion that Scotland has "undoubtedly benefited from being part of the overall broadcasting ecology of the UK."

The report goes on to argue that Scotland has tended to be marginalised within that structure. Nonetheless, David Cairns of the Scotland Office could be permitted a smile at this nod to the UK role.

No Scottish Six, at this stage. Instead, there would be domestic and international news from a Scottish standpoint on the new channel.

To be clear, Alex Salmond did not lay particular stress on the Scottish Six when he launched the commission. That was done for him by certain media reports.

Hard perspective

Rather Mr Salmond said the aim should be more production in Scotland, more broadcasting levers here. The report delivers that.

No devolution of broadcasting, either. The report suggests a bigger role for Holyrood - plus a series of scrutiny mechanisms which would tend to shift the focus from London.

But broadcasting, as an overall issue, would remain reserved.

A setback for Mr Salmond? To some extent, yes. It would definitely have been handier from his perspective if the report had said: put Scotland in charge. It doesn't.

It would appear that the commissioners, led by Blair Jenkins, preferred to focus on broadcasting - on audience needs - rather than adjudicating in a core partisan dispute.

They have opted, in short, for productive content rather than seismic politics. While the new channel (or network - it would have substantial Online content) is the big idea, there's much more.

A challenge to the BBC to speed up network investment in Scotland, a challenge to Channel Four to do likewise, an analysis of ITV finances and the potential consequences for Scotland, an examination of possible funding streams for the proposed new channel.

The report is a thorough, focused body of work which merits attention.


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