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Opinion: BBC divides. In Scotland, who will rule?

15 April 2015 | analyst insight

LIBERUM OPINION: Ian Whittaker, Media Analyst & CItyAM Analyst of the Year

Email Ian or call him on: +44 (0) 20 3100 2089

One difference that has emerged from the main parties’ manifestos is their approach to the future of the BBC. There may be some significant developments here, depending of course on who forms the core of the next government.

Ian Whittaker (1)

On face value, a Labour government might seem best for the BBC. It flagged the current TV system as “one of Britain’s greatest strengths” and that the BBC “makes a vital contribution to the richness of our cultural life, and we will ensure that it continues to do so while delivering value for money”.

More fundamentally, Labour backs the £145.50 licence fee and would presumably be open to modest increases.

Yet there may be a fly in the ointment for the BBC under a Labour-led government: BBC Scotland.

The Scottish National Party sees it as a nest of Unionist vipers and has demanded that authority over the BBC in Scotland be transferred to the Scottish Parliament.

That bodes ill for the BBC.

The Conservatives, on the other hand, have pledged to freeze the licence fee at its current levels, with some suggesting this would mean a 25% cut in real terms if it was extended over Parliament’s lifetime.

This would presumably mean more cost cuts at the BBC.

However, it has left open the prospect of changes to the BBC’s funding structure pending Charter renewal.  

Finally, on Channel 4, Labour has committed to keeping it within state ownership, while the Conservatives are silent on the matter.

Do not be surprised if a Conservative-led government tries to privatise Channel 4.

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