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David Puttnam

Lord Puttnam backing for BBC 'Scottish Six' news programme

Lord Puttnam backing for BBC 'Scottish Six' news programme

29 June, 2016

Lord Puttnam backing for BBC 'Scottish Six' news programme

A report into the future of public service broadcasting in the UK has given backing to the idea of a BBC "Scottish Six" TV news programme.

The Future for Public Service Television Inquiry, chaired by Labour peer Lord David Puttnam, also called for more devolution in BBC budgets.

BBC Scotland announced a trial of an hour-long news programme in February, that could replace Reporting Scotland.

However, the corporation has yet to announce a final decision on the issue. 

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme, Lord Puttnam said the current provision for Scottish audiences fell short.

He said: "We looked carefully at it and we don't think the present system has fully taken on board the settlement that exists - that basically it's not reflective of the current constitutional settlement with Scotland.

"And it certainly won't be reflective of the settlement, if - as seems absolutely possible - Scotland increases its relationship with Europe or solidifies its relationship with Europe in a post-Brexit world."

'Cap in hand'

Lord Puttnam said BBC Scotland's news output should reflect the world to Scots "as seen from Scotland".

He added: "There's no question that the world as viewed from Edinburgh and Glasgow is a different world as viewed from London. Those editorial decisions ought to be located in Scotland because they affect Scotland."

On funding, Lord Puttnam said it was time for control of funding for Scottish programming to move to Scotland.

He said: "One thing I discovered as a movie producer, unless you control your own budget, you will never make your own programmes. 

"You cannot continue to go cap in hand from Scotland to London, or from Manchester to London for that matter, and hope that the budget controllers will give you the type of freedom and be able to make the type of programme that you want to make."

The report, commissioned in November 2015, also called for the licence fee to be replaced by a more "progressive option", including the possibility of a supplement to the council tax.

On Tuesday, BBC director general Tony Hall spoke to the Culture Media and Sport Committee at Westminster.

Speaking about a possible Scottish Six, he told the committee: "The current method of delivering news between six and seven is very popular, it's very popular with audiences in Scotland, the teams do a very good job.

"So whatever changes we make must be in the knowledge that actually it's got to be as good as - if not better than - what we are doing at the moment."

The so-called Scottish Six has been a long-running controversy within Scottish broadcasting, with previous proposals being ruled out by the BBC's then-director general Mark Thompson in 2006. 

The proposals are in response to criticism that the BBC's main Six O'Clock News programme, which is broadcast from London, often features stories - for example on education and health - that have no relevance to Scottish audiences.

Source: BBC Scotland