At the SNP Conference earlier this month I’d heard of plans by an organisation called Scottish Broadcasting Company to launch a bid to buy out STV2 which had previously announced it would close with the loss of up to 59 jobs.

The following week I came across a crowdfunder which aimed to raise £1 Million by August 9th to enable the purchase of STV2 to go ahead. This crowdfunder page stated the following: 

“Scotland needs a more diverse media offering. It is therefore very important that following the announcement by STV Group PLC that it will close the STV2 channel at the end of June 2018, that the channel is saved from closure and re branded SBC.

STV2 currently have 5 local TV licenses issued by Ofcom covering Edinburgh , Glasgow, Ayr, Dundee and Aberdeen on freeview channel number 8 and on both Sky and Virgin Media platforms across Scotland. Revenue currently is reported by STV as £1.7 million per year but STV also reports it’s running costs are £2.5 million per year with approximately 25 staff.

Local news programmes are a centre piece of the STV 2 schedule at 7pm but this has attracted very few viewers as this is the broadcast at the same time as ITV’s mainstream soap Emmerdale. SBC would move the evening news to 6pm and broadcast a more popular programme at 7pm. Some cost efficiencies including lower cost premises and fewer staff will be needed but within a relatively short period it is believed that SBC will see an increase in audience and reach operational break even.

SBC would look to keep a number of the STV 2 programmes and enter a commercial agreement for the sale of advertising slots with STV Group. This will allow SBC to focus on building up the audience and develop new programmes for a Scottish audience.

The target has been set at £1 million to ensure that a offer to purchase the channel from STV will be successful but also leave sufficient capital to fund the change over to the SBC TV channel. A small management team will be recruited with modest salaries and programme making talent will be secured where possible. It is expected that SBC will work to train new talent on a ongoing basis. 

SBC will be focused on delivering an attractive general entertainment service with a nightly professional impartial news programme. SBC would be looking to support Gaelic television programming and work with Scottish based production companies. Only if this project is both fully funded and is successful in purchasing the STV2 assets will donations be collected.”

Unfortunately this was the only information on the venture that was available and despite a request to the project founder, David Henry, no further information was forthcoming.

An Independent Scottish Broadcaster that could have reached 81% of Scottish households through Freeview, Sky and Virgin Media would have been a fantastic weapon with which to counter what is often seen as pro-union bias from the mainstream media outlets such as the BBC and STV.

Unfortunately to date the crowdfunder has only raised £150 of its £1 Million target and in what is surely a fatal blow to the project STV today announced that STV2’s local broadcasting licences had been sold off to a company called That’s Television Ltd who operate 14 local TV stations in England.

So where does that leave those of us that would like to see a truly independent Scottish broadcaster?

Well we currently have 2 excellent small broadcasters operating namely Truly Scottish TV and Broadcasting Scotland. Both of these are fairly new ventures and are currently available online only.

From a personal perspective I would love to see these 2 projects come together and develop a plan to bring their output to conventional television, but as with many Indy projects this requires a great deal of fundraising.

Truly Scottish TV describe themselves as:

“We’re a small band of amateur Broadcasters. Our aim is to broadcast a Positive Scotland to the world.”

While Broadcasting Scotland state:

“Broadcasting Scotland is a new broadcaster for Scotland, producing programmes from a Scottish perspective, targeting audiences, inside Scotland and beyond. 

We have now moved to our new studio in the centre of Glasgow, from where we will be able to produce a range of news and current affairs, music, comedy and chat programmes.

Our mission is to entertain, educate and inform. We believe it is important that Scotland should have an alternative broadcaster, trusted by viewers and which will provide quality original programming across all genres. We will produce new original Scottish programmes, working with young programme makers, helping them develop their careers in Scotland. We will partner with colleges and universities to provide opportunities for work experience and career development.”

We undoubtedly have a great deal of broadcasting talent in Scotland so hopefully some sort of group can get together and deliver us the sort of media we truly deserve as a nation, especially in light of an upcoming new Scottish channel from the BBC.

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