Thursday, March 27, 2008

Broadcasting Commission's Carping.

So the Scottish Broadcasting Commission has issued their interim report, somewhat anticlimactic, but then again what did we expect? According to Blair Jenkins its chairman "The main themes to emerge are a demand for more Scottish content. People are expressing a desire and appetite to see more programming of documentaries, history and heritage programmes." It goes on to say that Scottish broadcasting "suffers a lack of ambition" and is "missing out on Scottish talent and creativity" It also says. "People didn't feel the full diversity of life in Scotland was being reflected in their programmes."

There's a sense of inevitability about what the report is saying and a sense of they need to get out more. It's as though living in Scotland is some kind of vacuum in which we gaze endlessly at our historical navel and hanker after a diet of programming that is inward looking. We recently had the Top 10 of Scottish history from the BBC and they've announced another series about Scottish history There comes a point when there is such a degree of repetition of historical subjects that there's little point in continuing. I'm all for historical programmes but the level of audience that these programmes can attract must be limited, once you step outside of mainstream subjects. Now some might say, so be it the BBC is not about ratings, and I would agree. However, it's clear from the viewing figures that most people in Scotland share a love for the mainstream type programmes whether it's Coronation Street, Strictly Come Dancing, The X Factor or whatever else the rest of the UK is watching. Striking a balance seems to be the answer and reading what's been said about Scottish broadcasting has predictability about it. It's as though the Scottish Government has decreed that we must be more Scottish.

Much of what's made by broadcasters now has to compete on a world stage and there's an economic argument in all this that it's difficult to see how the Scottish Broadcasters can compete with if there's a greater amount of Scotland only programming. The Gaelic channel is already running into difficulties about the level of funding. The millions spent on programmes for around 50,000 potential viewers seems out of whack. I wonder if the commission would dare to suggest knocking it on the head and have the money redirected into mainstream Scottish programmes?

To say, as the report does, that Scottish broadcasters lack imagination feels like carping. It's a matter of opinion and that is what the interim report feels like. Politics and culture are usually unhappy bedfellows and we may all come to regret messing with things too much.

1 comment:

pundy said...

I can't in any way prove this but I always feel that BBC Radio Scotland is somehow backward looking. Sure, Scotland is a great country with a great history but what about the future? When it makes serious programmes it feels old-fashioned and stuck in the past. I'd like to see a much more contemporary historical emphasis on the people, places and institutions (academia, business, beliefs) that are going to sustain and inspire us going forward.

Maybe I'm being unfair but Radio Scotland isn't my first stopping-off point when I wish to be inspired by this fine country and its people.