back to article Scotland's BIG question: Will independence cost me my broadband?

On 18 September, the people living in Scotland will vote in a referendum to decide if we should to slice the top off Great Britain and create a separate country. If that happens, and once the locals sober up, Scotland could be a country with universal broadband, a publicly owned postal service and mobile coverage which would be …

Silver badge

Realism

I'm not fundamentally against Scottish independence nor am I particularly in favour of it (though personally if there has to be change I'm more in favour of greater national devolution and a more federalist UK). However the nut jobs in Scottish parliament seem to have no grasp of reality especially when it comes to their future economy.

"The SBS would also inherit a proportionate share of the BBC’s commercial ventures, including BBC Worldwide Ltd, and their associated ongoing profits."

So you want to separate yourselves from Britain and its government and public institutions such as the BBC but you want to keep your own replacement propped up with profits from BBC. Sure, that seems a totally fair and completely independent plan.

What next? An independent Scotland should get a portion of UK licence payers money because those in Northern England can receive broadcasts from the newly formed SBS?

Combine that with other wonderful plans such as a pinning your national economic future to a currency union with the rest of the UK, which the UK government has already said they won't agree to, and you have the picture of an independent future of economic ruin and chaos.

Proper planning prevents p*** poor performance and all that.

37
22

Re: Realism

BBC Worldwide partially funds and then sells BBC programming worldwide (and any associated merchandising). So if BBC Scotland (or whatever it might be called) continues to produce saleable programming then it seems reasonable that they would be able to profit from worldwide sales via BBC Worldwide (although I guess BBCW would be under no obligation to do so).

Not that I disagree with your other points.

9
0
Silver badge

Re: Realism

And it should be obvious that an independent Scottish postal service is bound to cost more, simply because there's a greater proportion of remote locations than for the UK as a whole. I'm sure the same must be true for telephone and broadband services as well.

26
3
Silver badge

Re: Realism

'Scots, wha hae wi Wallace bled,

Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,

Welcome tae yer gory bed,

Or tae victorie.

I think that the Scots will surpise you.

11
20
Silver badge

Re: Realism

"And it should be obvious that an independent Scottish postal service is bound to cost more, simply because there's a greater proportion of remote locations than for the UK as a whole. I'm sure the same must be true for telephone and broadband services as well."

Does that mean that the cost in England and Wales will come down?

10
0

Re: Realism

If faced with a rational argument, spout patriotic poetry. Got it.

53
6
Anonymous Coward

Re: Realism

Like it or not, Scottish licence fee payers have financially contributed to the BBC, which funds the programs that are subsequently sold by BBC Worldwide. Assuming a proportionate share, then Scottish licence fee payers own around 10% of BBC Worldwide, and 10% of future revenue streams on current productions, because they paid for it.

Negotiations can take place in which that 10% of future revenue could be exchanged for a lump sum, but for you to suggest that it's owned in it's entirety by rUK and Scotland can go whistle is essentially, theft. However, the UK does have historical form for that, just ask any one of a number of ex-colonial countries.

26
7
Silver badge

Re: Realism

"BBC Worldwide partially funds and then sells BBC programming worldwide"

Indeed, but does this mean that SBS is going to produce content and give it to BBC Worldwide, and receive profit share in return? Plausible I suppose but does that mean they still get profit share even if no-one outside Scotland or the rest of the UK wants the content they product?

Would it not make more sense for the SBS to sell their content to the BBC like they would (and the BBC do already) to any other third party television network, and reap the profits that way, assuming they product anything that people want.

3
1
Silver badge

Re: Realism

"Like it or not, Scottish licence fee payers have financially contributed to the BBC"

Yes ok, I'll give you that. But an arrangement where a portion of ongoing profits for an indefinite future period go to the SBS would equally be theft. What about in x number of years time, when any content produced during the period funded by money from the Scots is no longer sold by BBC Worldwide or broadcast at all. For BBC Worldwide to continue to fund the SBS at that point would equally be theft.

Either as you say a lump sum should be paid, or simply the past contributions should be written off as having paid for content received at the time and/or be considered as part of the cost of independence.

After all, although you don't need a TV licence to watch pre-recorded content on iPlayer and such, previously having paid for a TV licence doesn't have any bearing on your entitlement to watch content produced during the period that you did pay for in the future.

6
6
Anonymous Coward

Re: Realism

It will be good for the UK to offload Scotload. Scotland will return to being an ecomonic boat anchor round our necks before too long due to the continuing decline in oil and gas revenue (if we even count that as Scottish - it's not like they made it or anything).

At least after independence we will have a reason to visit the godforsaken hole that is Scotand - cheap booze and fags until they negtiate EU membership!

8
28
Anonymous Coward

Re: Realism

"Assuming a proportionate share, then Scottish licence fee payers own around 10% of BBC Worldwide, and 10% of future revenue streams on current productions, because they paid for it."

That's fine just so long we can use the same model for the oil and gas in international waters off Scotland - the UK government has funded all of the exploration and development via tax allowances, so Scotland presumably owns only a proportional share based on the size of it's population or GDP contribution, etc.

18
9
Silver badge
Joke

Re: Realism

I love the way that a share of BBC worldwide's profits is not spelled out.

A. Do they mean a share of those profits produced by BBC Scotland programs (suspect not as that would be a lowball).

B. Do they mean a share of those profits equivalent to the proportion of the BBC headcount and Opex based in Scotland?

C. As much filthy lucre as the thieving politicians can grab.

Not saying Scottish politicians are any more larcenous than the rest of the UK - just that they are going effectively legislate themselves a series of new troughs to poke their snouts into and NO politician should be trusted to do that without intense oversight.

14
2
Anonymous Coward

Re: Realism

An international law professor I saw present to the Scottish Affairs Committee of Parliament said that international legal conventions point to an independent Scotland being entitled to a claim to a share of the UK's assets, but no claim on its institutions. The logic is that turning your back on the UK means turning your back on UK state institutions, even the ones (like the BBC or the £) you like and feel you have paid towards.

So it would make sense for Scotland to have a claim to a share of the BBC's assets like buildings and kit located in Scotland. Would the BBC's back catalogue of telly programmes count as an asset that could be divvied up?

Expect many such squabbles after independence!

20
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Realism

"But an arrangement where a portion of ongoing profits for an indefinite future period go to the SBS would equally be theft." Which is, of course, why I didn't say it. What I did say was "10% of future revenue streams on current productions", not future production, not for an indefinite time.

As for Scotland having to write off that money as "part of the cost of independence" sounds a bit arrogant and vindictive, Imagine investing into a pension scheme, of which you own 10%, and you'd like to withdraw your money because you don't like the future direction it's going in, but the scheme directors say - 'Sorry, you can't have it, it's all ours, go away'.

Not likely to win many friends with that attitude.

10
1
Slx
Silver badge

Re: Realism

Here in the Republic of Ireland my TV Licence is soon to change to an even move annoying concept : The Public Service Broadcasting Charge. That means it's just going to be a household charge with no opt out possibly collected by the Tax Office.

Those funds go primarily to RTE which is Ireland's semi-commercial public service broadcaster - funds itself 50:50 from the licence fee and adverts. At present that's €160 a year per household.

A % also goes to other commercial broadcasters and community radio stations that apply for funding for tje production of public service programmes.

BBC is widely available here on cable and it's carried on Sky Digital in Ireland. However, we pay for it. BBC Worldwide charges cable providers and BSkyB Ireland a royalty fee for BBC 1, 2, 3, 4 and Cbeebees etc

Channel 4 has an ad sales office in a Dublin and operates commercially here running Irish adverts on Channel 4 and E4 etc ccarried on Sky and cable.

Sky and various other channels do similar.

ITV isn't officially available here but most ITV programming is available on TV3 (main commercial TV channel) and UTV northern Ireland is on cable and sells Irish ads.

I don't see how an independent Scotland could just assume it's going to keep BBC.

It'll probably have to turn BBC Scotland into something like RTE in Ireland. Probably SBC or something like that and pay for BBC content and channels commercially like we do.

12
0
Mushroom

Re: Realism

Loving the way everyone seems to round-up the proportionate share for Scotland to 10%. If it was done on population I think it would be about 8%, but I wonder what it would be if you counted people who actually paid the license fee.

8
0

Re: Realistic percentages

10% is rather high on current estimates Scotland has around 8.3% of the UK population and that's falling as the population of South Eastern England (pronounced London) rises fast, so by the time any independence came into effect they may be looking at around 7.5% of the revenues.

2
0

Re: Realism

Spain will veto their membership purely as a statement to their own independently minded regions.

14
7
Slx
Silver badge

Re: Realism

Quite possibly Belgium too for similar reasons. They're facing a split down the middle.

The EU institutions sit in one of the most fractious countries in Europe and I think many EU Commission staff are aware of how chaotic a split might be there.

My question is what happens to the national debt and also a very large number of UK banks are HQ'd in Scotland and they're heavily bailed out.

If Scotland were left with all the banking crisis debts from those banks it would make the Irish banking crisis seem like a fuss about nothing. Those banks are many times bigger than Scotland's economy. You'd have Icelandic type risks on a far bigger scale.

9
5
Silver badge

Re: Realism

However, the UK does have historical form for that, just ask any one of a number of ex-colonial countries.

Whilst I can't deny that the British Empire did a lot of rather naughty things, most of these were beyond living memory, and it's not as if everyone else on the planet is saintly. History is, after all, written by the winners, and everyone alive today is alive because their ancestors, in a long line going back to time immemorial, fought and killed others for the resources to survive and propagate.

12
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: Realism

> If faced with a rational argument, spout patriotic poetry. Got it.

To be fair, I haven't seen much rational argumentation from the status-quo camp. More like finger-waving that change is bad, however the evidence from all the new small countries that have popped up in the last 20, 50, or 96 years is that none of them have failed so far, not even third world ones, and certainly not European ones (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Kosovo, ... not even something as dysfunctional as Bosnia i Herzegovina is anywhere close to failure).

I am curious why people tend to rely so much on predictions based on whichever set of assumptions one chooses to use (from whichever side of the argument), when there is already plenty of actual State-building experience out there (and incidentally, some world-class academic experts in the field live in Scotland).

21
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: Realism

> Expect many such squabbles after independence!

The international law professor that you listened to described the principles guiding the arrangements made during the break-up of Czechoslovakia.

There was a fair bit of negotiating, as you would expect, but it all got sorted out quite promptly and civilly in the end. I would expect no less from Old Blighty.

13
0

Re: Realism

"The SBS would also inherit a proportionate share of the BBC’s commercial ventures, including BBC Worldwide Ltd, and their associated ongoing profits."

My problem is not with the principle of that; it's simply that it's yet another regrettable, jam-today, sweep-the-practicalities-under-the-carpet example of the "Yes" camp's ludicrous pretence that, in the event of a vote for independence, all difficulties will simply melt away and Scotland will get everything it wants.

Sorry, but I was born a cynic; if Scotland votes "Yes", then, sure, there will cases where an adequate level of independent operation already exists, and in those cases it's quite possible that the division will be fairly amicable. Where that's not the case, though, vested interests (overwhelmingly, south of the border) are likely to fight tooth and nail to either keep their assets intact or to make Scotland pay through the nose for what it wants - anything less makes no business sense. Is that the case with the BBC? I have no idea. Would such an amicable separation extend to existing income streams? I *highly* doubt it.

If the Scots vote for independence, that's their choice - I wouldn't rob them of their right to make that decision for a second. But either way, the idea that some Magic Referendum Fairy will simply wave her magic wand and gift a Scotland that has just chosen to divorce itself from the UK with everything that Salmond et al. want to claim as its "fair share" is, frankly, about as ridiculous as... ...well, as the concept of a Magic Referendum Fairy. She's far, far more likely to wave her wand and walk away with half the contents of Scotland's wallet.

16
4

Magic Referendum Fairy

The big wave of the wand would be when Shetland decides that it wants to be independent itself or stay in the UK.

Why? The way that the first use of the word 'Shetland' in "Scotland's Future: Your Guide to an Independent Scotland" is on p290 is utterly typical, as is the second on p301, where it claims what is - by the SNP's favourite way to decide this - undeniably Shetland's oil belongs to Edinburgh.

Shetland could go independent and thrive without mainland Scotland, but mainland Scotland could not go independent and survive without Shetland.

17
7
Silver badge

Re: Realism

@John Robson

You have a tremendous sense of humour, I see.

2
0
Silver badge
Childcatcher

Re: Realism

Quite possibly Belgium too for similar reasons. They're facing a split down the middle.

Belgium has always been a house divided. Then again, their government stopped working for a while and pretty much no-one cared.

12
0

Re: Realism

Ah; the Salmond effect: as long as Alex repeats the magic mantra "everyone in the newly formed country will be able to get broadband" enough times, it will become true, along with keeping the Pound and the Queen (although I'm happy to concede on that last one, as long as they promise not to let any Windsors stray south of Balmoral ever again).

2
6

Re: Realism

Spain will veto nothing, not if they don't want a full scale revolt of their fishing industry.

3
4

Re: Realistic percentages

In what way does the exact percentage alter logic and fairness?

10% or 5%, what matters is what is right, lets leave the percentages to the accountants.

2
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: Realism

That wasn't surprising at all was it

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Realism

If Scotland goes independent, it will lose the BBC iPlayer too. In Ireland we can watch BBC programs but we cannot use the iPlayer as it tells us that we are outside their jurisdiction....

4
1
Silver badge
Mushroom

Re: Realism

Here in the Republic of Ireland my TV Licence is soon to change to an even move annoying concept : The Public Service Broadcasting Charge. That means it's just going to be a household charge with no opt out possibly collected by the Tax Office.

Ah yes - Ireland - a little failed democracy inflicting tax after tax, and cut after cut on its citizens.

I hope Scotland looks towards Ireland and takes note of what NOT to do after it gains its independence.

5
8
Silver badge

Re: Realism

The thing that a lot of Europe doesn't quite get is that Scotland is not an annoying rebellious region wanting independence. It is a separate country, and it wants to be a separate autonomous country. British history is messy.

11
2
Anonymous Coward

Re: Realism

"And it should be obvious that an independent Scottish postal service is bound to cost more, simply because there's a greater proportion of remote locations than for the UK as a whole. I'm sure the same must be true for telephone and broadband services as well."

I'm not sure about that - while the overall population density of Scotland is lower than for the UK as a whole, there are large areas of Scotland that have no population, and therefore don't require any Postal or wired services at all. Mobile coverage may be an issue in some of those areas, but population clustering may mean that Scotland isn't necessarily any worse off that the rest of the UK it comes to telephone, broadband and postal services.

2
2
Boffin

Re: Realism

"I'm not sure about that - while the overall population density of Scotland is lower than for the UK as a whole, there are large areas of Scotland that have no population, and therefore don't require any Postal or wired services at all"

It's a fairly valid assumption, given that most other non-Royal Mail delivery companies charge additional costs for the Highlands and islands.

But this all assumes that the Scottish government can buy back their part of the Royal Mail from the privately owned company, which I'd be surprised about.

3
0
Silver badge

Re: iplayer

use a vpn - private tunnel for instance, only costs about 15 quid a year for 50gb data transfer. gives you a uk ip (or us, canadian and many other countries...i use it here in the uk to watch hells kitchen (alright, thats a bit sad i admit, i'll blame it on the missus))

0
1

Re: Realism

the godforsaken hole that is Scotand

Never heard of Scotand. Is that your pet name for yer maw's fud?

10
2
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: BBC "propping up" Scotland

By that same logic, StarBucks, Google and Amazon UK receive investment from their respective US parent operations, therefore the UK is not really independent.

Erm...

Well, if you want to look at it in terms of corporate globalism, it isn't. No country is. And despite the hype (and the tax "license") the BBC is just another global corporation (£5 billion a year, apparently).

Back on topic, whatever happens to broadband in Scotland, it can't possibly be any worse than it already is, so I for one welcome our new Scottish overlords.

3
0
Silver badge

Re: BBC "propping up" Scotland

Not sure if it was my phrasing or your reading ability but I was suggesting that the BBC funding would be used to prop up the SBC not the entirity of Scotland. Baring in mind it would likely need it given the population of Scotland and the number paying TV licence fees assuming Scotland keeps that model.

Also the rest of what you wrote is drivel as it is based on the premise that the BBC is a private corporation which it isn't really. It is primarily state fund through the TV licence fee which is essentially a tax, and heavily state regulated in both it's broadcast and financial operations. Any comparison to Amazon, Starbucks or any other multi-national is inherently flawed.

Besides if you want to pursue the corporate analogy, why should the BBC operations change at all? I'm sure Amazon UK won't both splitting it's operations into a separate Amazon Scotland

0
1
Silver badge

Re: Realistic percentages

@The First Dave

"In what way does the exact percentage alter logic and fairness?"

If you ever get divorced I hope your wife's lawyers read this.

0
1
Windows

Re: Realism

"If faced with a rational argument, spout patriotic poetry. Got it."

Don't over estimate the power of rationality and don't under estimate the appeal to emotion in these matters. This is a yes/no referendum. 13% undecided and a 4% gap on the most recent poll I can find.

4
1

Re: Realism

http://youtu.be/Slu1OuykMIk

Harry and Paul

0
0
Gold badge

Re: Realism

BBC Scotland and RTE could just club together. An independent Scotland and an independent Ireland would presumably be friends, right? And they both have *one* language in common (and it ain't Estuary English). And they will both be small countries within the EU with a long shared history and culture.

3
1
Gold badge

Re: Realism

You're assuming that Spain in its current form still exists after the Basques and Catalans realise that you *can* win independence if you just dig your heels in, vote for it, and resist the temptation to shoot anyone.

7
1
Gold badge

Re: Realism

"Ah yes - Ireland - a little failed democracy inflicting tax after tax, and cut after cut on its citizens."

I haven't noticed anything wrong with Ireland's democracy recently. In the recent past it was a little theocratic for my tastes, but even that seems to be fading. Ireland's problem is that it got savaged by the bankers who were then bailed out by incompetent politicians. *Lots* of countries had that problem recently. (The UK, for one.)

5
0
Gold badge
Happy

Re: Realism

"If faced with a rational argument, spout patriotic poetry. Got it."

Indeed.

And so far the Scots are saying about 58% No, 47% Yes, so it looks like logic is ruling emotion.

Although Alan Cumming and Sean Connery are still in favor.

2
3
Silver badge

Re: Realism

"Combine that with other wonderful plans such as a pinning your national economic future to a currency union with the rest of the UK, which the UK government has already said they won't agree to"

It shows that I'm not an economist, but that has always confused me.

What's stopping an imdependent Scotland (or any other country) deciding to mirror the value of the UK pound? The only restriction I can see is potentially international copyright laws, but why then couldn't they keep parity but call it (say) the 'ellbie' or something.

I realise I'm being stupid here, so please reply with constructive answers not flames :-)

2
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Realism

Given the state of the Spanish economy, the Germans would probably prefer Spain out and Scotland in.

7
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Realism

And your point is?

I have no interest in justifying my ancestors; I just hope that we can do better in future. What puts me off the no camp is the petulance and childish bullying of politicians who can't bear the idea of losing a bit of influence. They come over as small minded.

6
1
Silver badge

Re: Realism

I haven't noticed anything wrong with Ireland's democracy recently. In the recent past it was a little theocratic for my tastes, but even that seems to be fading.

@Ken Hagan:

Just as a matter of interest, are you resident in the country and thus qualified to comment on the quality of the democracy? Or just on the outside looking in?

1
0

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Forums

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2018