Government in total confusion over TV shake-up

SNP MSPs Richard Lochhead and Mike Russell have reacted angrily to apparent indifference and confusion from the Scottish Government about the future of broadcasting in Scotland. In a Parliamentary Answer to Mr Lochhead, Culture Minister Mike Watson said that the Draft UK Communications Bill was not designed to impact on Scottish culture and identity. However, Mr Watson's answer runs contrary to comments from Jack McConnell at First Minister's Questions on May 16, when he stated that the Bill would have an impact on Scottish culture, and had made representations on the matter.

Mr Lochhead commented:

"The Scottish Government doesn't know if it's coming or going on this. How is the future of Scottish broadcasting going to be enhanced and developed when the First Minister and Culture Minister are saying the complete opposite of one another?

"It's obvious that television has the biggest cultural impact on our society of any medium, and to suggest that ownership, control and regulation of TV companies will have no effect is ludicrous.

"The Government should come clean on what they're actually doing, if anything, to make sure there will be no erosion of identity under these proposals."

Mr Russell added:

"Everyone in broadcasting that I speak to is concerned about the impact of these proposals on Scottish culture. There is a strong feeling that the Draft Bill does not meet Scottish needs and will do nothing to help build our media industries.

"Jack McConnell seemed to be showing concern by making representations on the issue, but Mike Watson's response is a nonsense. If the Government is going to bury its head in the sand it will be a disaster for the future of Scottish broadcasting and the future of Scottish culture."