I was pleased to see the Scottish Parliament last Thursday pass the following motion - after considerable debate - on Ofcom's Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) Review :
"That the Parliament notes that 4 December 2008 is the final date for submissions to Ofcom's Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) Review, Preparing for the Digital Future;
recognises that, while broadcasting is reserved, there is a need for a healthy, competitive Scottish-based television programme-making sector outwith the BBC, notwithstanding that organisation's historic, respected and pivotal role in Scottish broadcasting;
recognises the role of STV as the only remaining Scottish-based commercial PSB provider;
prefers Ofcom's enhanced evolution option with a commercial TV channel continuing to provide PSB for Scotland as part of a wider UK network;
recognises that STV's survival as a PSB provider is at risk in the current economic climate, particularly since ITV is now advocating a single UK-wide brand, and calls on Ofcom to explore all options to ensure that there is PSB competition for BBC Scotland in the nation's rapidly changing broadcasting landscape;
further believes that all Scottish residents should have access to the full range of broadcasting following digital switchover, and calls on Ofcom to ensure that all relay transmitters are capable of transmitting the full spectrum of free-to-view broadcasting and that the 7th Mux is enabled in Scotland."
Full marks to Iain Smith, Liberal Democrat MSP for North East Fife who responsible for the final paragraph in the motion being added, calling on Ofcom to ensure that all viewers get the full range of digital channels, whether or not they are served by a main transmitter, and that the 7th Mux is enabled, vital if we are to have local television provision across Scotland.
Also, an excellent contribution from Ted Brocklebank, Conservative MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, who said,
"We firmly believe that a digital channel, partly funded by commercials, could also allow for the development of city and local TV, which is widely available throughout Europe, with Spain alone having 1,000 channels. Such broadcasting is also highly successful in America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. It has been suggested that up to 16 local TV channels could be viable in Scotland, which could provide up to 330 new jobs. However, we think that the Government should urgently engage with Ofcom to ensure that the spectrum is available for the roll-out of a vital new digital service."
The Fife and Tayside Local TV working group, with which I have taken an active part (click on headline above to view more) has participated in Ofcom's consultation and we hope that the regulator will respond positively to the consultation responses, the Scottish Parliament's motion and the calls for local television provision across Scotland - a real plus that could be gained from the digital switch-over.