The BBC is under political pressure to reveal details of an internal study which found that viewers in an independent Scotland would have to pay almost double their current licence fee if they wanted to continue watching and listening to the same BBC shows.
Labour’s former culture secretary Ben Bradshaw has called on the corporation to publish the figures “immediately so people in Scotland have the facts before they vote”.
According to The Guardian, a BBC research document drawn up three years ago compared the total amount Scottish viewers paid towards the licence fee with the value of the services they received from the corporation. It is understood that the figures – one source said the internal paper concluded that the value the Scottish audience receive is “well north … almost double” the total revenue raised by their collective licence fees – were seen by some of the most senior BBC executives under the tenure of the then director general, Mark Thompson.
Currently around £350 million (€439m) is raised from the 2.4 million households in Scotland. The costs of running the BBC’s services in Scotland are part of a complex internal financial structure, partly because they are intermingled with those for other countries, such as BBC Wales. One of the most expensive elements is said to be the transmission of radio and television programmes in Scotland due to its more widely dispersed population and topography. BBC Radio Scotland costs £32.2 million – almost double the amount BBC Radio Wales does, for example.