Let’s make this one as short as possible. This week’s latest comedy FEARBOMB from the No camp (well, one among many) was a topically Doctor Who-themed repeat of one of their classics – “You won’t get the BBC after independence”.
We pulled that one apart in detail almost a year ago, but let’s see if we can boil it right down to the bare undisputed facts for easy quick reference.
1. An independent Scotland charging the same licence fee as is charged now would have – according to Labour’s Anas Sarwar – around £300m at its disposal.
2. By the time of independence – 2016/17 – the entire budget of BBC Scotland is scheduled to be £86m (“Financial and other information”).
3. The total amount of money the BBC made in 2012/13 from selling its programmes worldwide, to over 200 countries, was £312m (paragraph 8).
4. On average, then, for an entire year, the BBC made about £1.5m from each country it sold its programmes to.
So an independent Scotland with £300m in its annual broadcasting budget could afford to replicate the complete output of BBC Scotland (radio and TV) and still have £214m left over – approximately 143 times as much as it would need to buy in BBC shows.
Even if we were to put the cost to Scotland higher than most countries – because Scots would presumably wish to keep more BBC shows than other nations want – it seems to be stretching credibility some way past breaking point to believe that Scotland would have to pay more than two-thirds of the total that the entire rest of the world currently pays.
In fact, let’s say Scotland paid almost TEN TIMES as much for BBC programming as the average country – £14m. That’d leave an extra £200m a year in the Scottish Broadcasting Corporation’s budget, over and above what BBC Scotland produces at the moment. Imagine what could be done for the nation’s culture and sport with that. (And we could still afford to cut the licence fee a bit as well.)
In the meantime, nobody’s losing Doctor Who. Sober up.