Radical rethink needed on Scotland’s new Screen Unit


A Scottish Parliament committee is calling for a radical rethink on Scotland’s new Screen Unit to ensure it can help Scotland’s dynamic screen sector reach its full potential.

In a dramatic move, The Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee has published an interim report called "A Bigger Picture" to signal to the Scottish Government that transformational change is needed to free the new Screen Unit from cumbersome governance arrangements and bureaucracy.

The Committee recognise that the establishment of the Screen Unit is underway, that there’s widespread support for its development and its work should continue. But they recommend moving the Screen Unit out of Creative Scotland, to become an independent screen agency. The members believe specialist expertise is needed to support the many businesses in the sector and a stand alone agency could provide bespoke business support and be far more successful in encouraging the overall growth of the sector.

The Committee came to these conclusions during their inquiry to ensure that the new Screen Unit will deliver the recommendations of the Screen Sector Leadership Group (SSLG) Report.

The Committee will publish a full report in June of its extensive inquiry but have taken the highly unusual decision of publishing an interim report to highlight the urgent need for change.

The SSLG was established to consider how to address public sector fragmentation and provide an overarching screen strategy with strong leadership and accountability.

Convener, Joan McAlpine MSP said:

“Over the course of the inquiry it has become clear to us that the proposal for the Screen Unit, while a move in the right direction, will not deliver the transformation the screen sector in Scotland needs to be sustainable and successful in a fast-changing global market.

“It is clear there are dedicated and talented individuals working on screen within Creative Scotland. But, we believe that ultimately the Screen Unit needs to be transformed into “Screen Scotland”: an independent screen agency with a wide-ranging remit to represent and promote the screen sector in Scotland.

“We were impressed with the leadership and vision of the screen sector and believe “Screen Scotland” should be led by individuals with a strong knowledge and understanding of the sector, and the vision to ensure that Scotland can compete successfully in a global market”.

Deputy Convener, Claire Baker MSP said:

“We want a vibrant screen sector in Scotland. That requires a standalone agency which is not encumbered by bureaucracy and is industry led. An autonomous “Screen Scotland” will help nurture, develop and support indigenous talent, deliver more studio capacity, attract major productions, and represent Scotland to the rest of the world. It’s time to accelerate our ambition for screen as a nation. It’s time for action”.

Notes to Editor

The interim report is linked below:

The Bigger Picture - A screen agency for Scotland (pdf 153kb)

Background information

  • Online streaming has become a key way to consume entertainment, creating a surge in demand for content. Netflix alone plans to spend $7-8 billion on Commissioning content in 2018.
  • Filming the Outlander series in Wardpark Studios in Cumbernauld has brought over $400 million of investment, providing wide-ranging employment and training opportunities
  • Scotland has only secured a small portion of the $2 billion spent on productions in the UK in 2015.
  • The launch of the new BBC Scotland channel will offer more opportunity for the homegrown talent.
  • Ofcom’s decision to revise criteria for out of London production could increase television network spend from Scotland.
  • Details of the Screen Sector Inquiry including evidence received is available here.

Contact information

Media information

Comittee information

Public information

  • Telephone enquiry line: 0800 092 7500 or 0131 348 5395 (Gàidhlig)
  • info@parliament.scot
  • Text 07786 209 888
  • Ask a question online through live chat
  • We also welcome calls using the Text Relay service or in British Sign Language through contactSCOTLAND-BSL

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