26 APRIL 1946, Page 12


SIR,—The hope expressed by " Janus " that "Parliament will be both incisive and constructive in criticism" since the Government has declined to appoint a Committee to consider the future of the B.B.C. will be warmly endorsed in Scotland. In fact, the Scottish Members have already been active on these lines, for they took part in a lively and most interest- ing debate on the Motion for the Adjournment last week, on the subject of Scottish broadcasting. Their plea, endorsed by members of all political groups in the House, was for the appointment of ,a Scottish Board of Governors, working within the framework of the B.B.C., but in complete charge of broadcasting in Scotland ; and in the discussion they covered most aspects of the service, both as regards programmes and technical development. , Their plea as regards Scottish Governors has been strengthened by the odd choices of B.B.C. Governors, whose appointment has just been announced and received with cynicism on this side of the Tweed. Within the limits of authority and finance, there has been a decided improvement in Scottish programmes since the revival of "Regional " broadcasting last July ; and if this proves anything it shows something of what could be done if direction at the head were more interested in Scottish radio potentialities and determined to exploit them in every possible way.

The important subject of B.B.C. finance is shrouded in mystery and generalities. After persistent pressure over a period of months, through the good offices first of Dr. Robert MacIntyre, the Nationalist M.P. in the last Parliament, and latterly of Col. Gomme-Duncan, Conservative M.P. for Perth, we have at last found out that income from Scottish licences in 1945 amounted to £496,000, and that expenditure in Scotland on stall, artiste fees, maintenance, &c., was £246,000 for the same period. We are told that an independent Scottish Corporation is impracticable, since the balance of £250,000 is alleged not to cover the cost of extra-Regional services, the expense of which is said to be (a) much greater, but (b) impossible to ascertain. Comment on this piece of nonsense is needless, except perhaps to point out that in a normal year the total cost of Danish broadcasting was £20o,000 and of New Zealand broadcasting £265,000 ; and that the discrepancy between these figures and the implied Scottish figure is far too big to be passed over without even an inquiry. There

is something wrong somewhere ; and if we in Scotland are in future to contribute something like Li,000,000 a year in licence fees (as we shall do when the £i fee operates) we are entitled to a full and frank statement of the total expenditure on the broadcasting service provided for Scotland. Any competent actuary could ascertain the appropriate allocation of joint expenses. Our main objective, however, is not to haggle over money, but to secure the best radio service for Scotland, bearing in mind that we are dealing here with a nation, not an English " region." This society has initiated an all-round inquiry into the B.B.C.'s Scottish services, and we would endorse your plea for the active attention of Parliament.—I am, yours faithfully,