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Ex-BBC DG: Scotland could lose BBC

August 20, 2014

Lord John Birt, a former director general of the BBC, has warned that the corporation would be forced to make deep cuts if Scotland votes for independence, losing up to a quarter of its current spending.

He said the BBC would have to make “fundamental” changes to its programming and operations after a yes vote, while Scottish viewers would lose automatic access to all the corporation’s TV and radio output.

Birt, writing for the Guardian, said the 15 per cent spending cuts already forced on the BBC by the Westminster government would be greatly worsened after a yes vote, since it would then lose another 10 per cent of its funding – the £320 million (€401m) currently paid each year by Scottish licence fee payers.

The former director general predicted the BBC would reject proposals by Alex Salmond’s government for a close working relationship with a new publicly owned Scottish Broadcasting Service (SBS). It would sell its shows to the highest bidder in Scotland, such as STV, partly because it was becoming so strapped for cash.

“The bold assertion in the Scottish government’s white paper that a new Scottish public service broadcaster will work with the BBC in a programme-swapping joint venture is make believe,” Birt states. “One way or another, after independence, Scottish viewers would have to pay to receive BBC services.”

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