Scottish independence: how will the media fare going it alone?

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If you live in a deep, dark cave, then you may be forgiven for not knowing that this Thursday Scots will vote on whether Scotland should become an independent country.

Pick up a paper, tune into the TV, turn on the radio, there’s no escaping the endless column inches and airwave time that are being dedicated to the Scottish referendum. After months and months on the campaign trail, this week will mark a watershed moment for those north, and indeed south, of the border.

While we all debate the potential ramifications of an independent Scotland, what I found interesting to read in today’s The Guardian was the effect it could have on the media – and the positive impact on the newspaper industry, in particular.

The sector has had a battering over the last ten years, as readerships dwindle. So, it seems rather strange to think that dividing countries could result in a more buoyant industry. But, given the dominance of UK titles (the Scottish Daily Mail sells more than the Herald and Scotsman combined), independence could see domestic titles freed from the shackles of media from ‘another country’. Scotland won’t be immune from the subscription and online challenges that defy any border, but with so much to report (creation of a currency, entry into Europe, international companies setting up base), there will be no scratching of heads when it comes to choosing the front page, with new media vehicles set to pop up in order to carry homegrown news.

The flipside to the argument is the potential fall-out from creating a new Scottish Broadcasting Service (SBS). Viewers will lose guaranteed universal access to national radio and TV channels provided by Channel 4 and the BBC. As a result, SBS will have its work cut out to sustain a strong independent media industry. With serious concerns also raised about the issue of democracy – as the SNP embarks on a journey of ‘nation building’ and an excuse to try and foster ‘nationalist sentiment’ – there’s little doubt (as with everything else associated with going it alone) that there’s a very steep hill to climb if the ‘yes’ vote succeeds.

Let us know what you think.

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