As the final weekend of campaigning on Scotland’s independence referendum gets underway, the BBC has come under pressure to reveal contents of a document which breaks down the cost of broadcasting in Scotland.
The document, which detail the costs of TV transmission across the UK, reportedly show that providing TV and radio services in Scotland are more expensive than the rest of the UK.
Population dispersal and the more challenging terrain of means that more money has to be spent on delivering services to every licence fee payer.
So, how much would a TV Licence cost in an independent Scotland?
The short answer is, nobody knows for sure yet.
According to Scotland’s Future, the SNP’s white paper which details the case for an independent Scotland, BBC Scotland would be replaced by a new public service broadcaster the SBS (Scottish Broadcasting Service).
Scotland’s Future claims that a licence fee for an SBS would cost the same as the current UK TV Licence – £145.50 a year.
But a report in the Guardian challenges that assertion. The report quotes BBC spokespeople saying that costs for broadcasting in specific areas are routinely worked out and initially with some unnamed insiders saying that the costs of transmission are well above that of the money raised from Scottish licence fee payers – around £350 million.
The Guardian’s report initially suggested that the current licence fee would have to be raised by around £300 per year per household, meaning a Scottish TV licence could cost £445.50.
The BBC admitted that cost reports exist but explained that it has not drawn up any contingency plans and will not do so until the votes have been counted. Until then it’s impossible to say how licence fees might change.
As well as setting up a new public service broadcaster, the Scottish Government has announced plans to ensure that every Scottish home and business is able to access broadband.
It’s not yet know how much will be spent on realising this ambition or even how it will differ from the current BDUK (Broadband Delivery for the UK) plans, which aims to connect every Scottish property to broadband services by 2017.
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