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skbl17

Scotland Decides (independence or not?)

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On Thursday, September 18, 2014, voters in Scotland will head to the polls to answer one simple, yet important question:

 

"Should Scotland be an independent country?"

 

The independence campaign officially began a few months ago, but some say that it really began in 1979 (first referendum on devolution,) 1997 (Scotland got its own parliament,) 2007 (first SNP victory,) 2011 (SNP majority,) or 2012 (ratification of the Edinburgh Agreement allowing a referendum). However, all of the campaigning on both sides of the debate, those who want independence and those who wish to stay in the United Kingdom, all comes down to Thursday's vote.

 

For its part, the media seems to have taken sides: the BBC has already been accused of having a pro-UK bent in its reporting and debates, several newspapers have also been accused in a similar manner, and internet sites like the Scottish section of Reddit have been accused of being pro-independence. Various celebrities, sports stars, and pundits have taken sides. There have been a series of debates on both BBC [Two Scotland] and STV (the Scottish franchise for ITV), and opinion polls - once showing the "No" side with a significant lead - now show the race in a dead heat. Various businesses have said that they will leave if Scotland votes "Yes", others have said they will stay, oil and investment outlooks paint a mixed picture, both sides have been accused of either being too rosy or too negative, and there have been rallies, demonstrations, and the usual fundraisers.

 

An estimated 97% of eligible Scots registered to vote, and a similar number is expected to vote in the referendum. The voting requirements were set by the Scottish government a couple of years back; in a historic first, 16-17 year-olds are able to vote in this referendum.

 

Should the "Yes" side prevail, the SNP is targeting Thursday, March 24, 2016 as the day Scotland becomes independent. However, questions surrounding the 2015 UK-wide general election have surfaced, and there is a fair amount of skepticism that the SNP won't be able to declare independence on 3/24/16 if negotiations fall through. Should the "No" side prevail, the three major political parties have promised "more powers" for Scotland, a kind of "devo max". As the UK doesn't have a codified constitution, imagine if the U.S. states had half the power they have now, but said powers were not codified in a constitution, but dictated by Washington. That's the current political situation in the UK, which is why devolution is such a hot topic. There's a healthy amount of concern that the parties won't deliver, as many recall the 1979-1997 situation: after Scotland rejected devolution in 1979, the Conservative government that came to power in London proceeded to "destroy" Scotland's industry, thus turning opinion against the Tories, a situation that continues to this day. Indeed, some opponents of independence classify this referendum not as a referendum for independence, but a referendum on Tory governments, when the "government referendum" is at the 2015 general election. Supporters of independence reject this claim.

 

As for what will happen on decision night with regards to broadcasting (all times EDT+5 unless indicated):

 

- The BBC has already set out its game plan for 9/18 and 9/19: in Scotland, a results program will be shown on BBC One Scotland starting Thursday night at 10:25pm, while a similar (but separate) program will be shown on BBC News Channel, BBC One (English regions), BBC One (Wales) and BBC One (Northern Ireland) at 10:35pm. On the radio side, BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio Scotland will broadcast special "Scotland Decides" programs at 10pm. Most of these programs will end by breakfast time Friday morning (6am). Coverage will also be provided online, and international viewers will get to listen to the live radio streams (via iPlayer and the Scotland Decides website) and live television coverage (via the Scotland Decides website, NOT iPlayer) during the event. BBC World News will also carry a special program beginning at 22:00 GMT (6pm EDT).

 

- As for STV, a special "STV News at Ten" will kickoff their coverage before heading into a longform "Scotland Decides" program, which will run until 6am Friday morning. A special "Scotland this Morning" will follow, detailing how Scots voted in the referendum and what it could mean heading into the future.

 

- On ITV in the rest of the UK (ITV1 and UTV), a special "Scotland Decides" (notice a theme here?) program will be broadcast beginning at 10:40pm, and will continue until Good Morning Britain starts at 6am. Apparently, ITV will take STV's feed of the event.

 

- Channel 4 doesn't seem to be doing anything special; I guess they'll just roll whatever happens into their usual "Channel 4 News" program.

 

- Sky News is also going all out on decision night, with their program, "Decision Time: Scotland", starting at 9pm and going through 6am Friday morning. Further coverage will be presented during Sky News's usual rolling news programs, on mobile devices, on Twitter, and online at skynews.com.

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It would be interesting if Scotland does become an independent nation. Not to mention that the Union Jack (UK Flag) would have to be redesigned.

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It would be interesting if Scotland does become an independent nation. Not to mention that the Union Jack (UK Flag) would have to be redesigned.

 

Honestly, an independent Scotland would raise some interesting questions not just in the UK, but in Europe as a whole. For example, a "Yes" vote would also cause a great amount of tension in Madrid.

 

Wait, what? Madrid? That's right. On November 9, Catalonians (in case you don't know where that is, think Barcelona) will head to the polls and vote in an independence referendum. Unlike the Scottish one, the national government in Madrid says "no" and has declared the vote "illegal". While Spain has vowed to stop the referendum, if Catalonia holds the vote anyway, votes yes, and the president of Catalonia declares independence....

 

Some interesting times in Europe, indeed. I mean, Sweden held a general election yesterday; the leftist coalition swept back to power, but they don't have enough support to form a government. They may just have to form a coalition with the surging Sweden Democrats, who are socially conservative and anti-immigration. Hmm....

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It should be interesting to see what happens. A lot is at stake here and it goes beyond just having a different flag. Scotland is joined at the hip to the UK, so no matter which side you are on, if a separation were to occur it would greatly affect their economy, security, etc. I was reading an article that said that if Scotland were to become independent, then they would still use the British Pound, but that was rebuffed. Also, if they become independent, are they automatically out of the EU and NATO?

 

In regards to Catalonia (Cataluña), regardless of what happens after the vote, there will still be animosity towards the Catalonians by the rest of Spain. A lot of Spaniards feel that Catalonia does whatever it wants and goes against the national government. Just this year if im not mistaken, the national government required that Catalonian public schools provide more instruction time to students in Spanish (Castilian)- the students have been primarily been instructed in Catalan. The bigger issue here of course is the Catalonians views that they are not respected/treated fairly the national government in Madrid- they feel that a lot of the money they pay in taxes does not make its way back to Catalonia but instead stays in the coffers in Madrid.

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It would be quite interesting in terms of media too. As things currently stand, the BBC own the license for channels 1 and 2. While the regulator own the license for channels 3 and 5. And channel 4 is owned by a public company.

 

BBC Scotland provide almost equal programming on BBC One Scotland and BBC Two Scotland to the England variants. STV provide the programming for Channel 3, and hold the license until 2024, (as do ITV in all English Regions and in Wales and UTV do in Northern Ireland), yet the provide almost equal programming to ITV in England, apart from Scotland Tonight at 10:30 similar to UTV and UTV Tonight (Other regions do not have a full local news after the 6pm programme).

 

With the split of Scotland, BBC One and Two would become SBS One and Two, and they would have to provide a certain percentage more original programming then they do now.

 

As for STV; OFCOM, the UK regulator would no longer control the broadcast services in Scotland, meaning that the Scottish government would be able to remove STV from power and out the license up for tender. Rumours are that ITV are interested and are planning on launching ITV Scotland if it does happen, which would give them coverage throughout the UK, apart from Northern Ireland.

 

----

 

Moving on and talking about how UK networks are coving the story, they all have anchors in Scotland. BBC have Huw Edwards (Anchor of the Ten O'Clock News) in Glasgow. ITV have Mark Austin in Glasgow. Sky News have a number of anchors in Glasgow. And all networks are planning major coverage for Thursday Night and Friday Morning.

 

Something that has shocked most tv "geeks" in the UK, is that ITV are extending Good Morning Britain until 10am (It usually ends at 8:30), that is something which has never happened before, not even with TV-AM, GMTV or Daybreak (GMB's predecessors), and they have also extended This Morning which will start directly after GMB. They will be carrying STV's coverage overnight though. Another shock comes, that STV (Who don't only hold the channel 3 license from 9:25am-6am), will be producing there own breakfast show for the morning after results (6am-10am) and will not be showing Good Morning Britain, something which hasn't been allowed by ITV (who own the 6am-9:25 slot nationally) before.

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I know their hearts want this but my mind would be voting no.

 

As for the BBC they have no contingency - but the pro Independence Party thinks they can carve out what they like and leave what they don't.

 

I seriously doubt the new SBS would be able to buy the rights to all of the programs from BBC if they were to keep a similar license fee. That being said I don't know what would stop the BBC from running the SBS to provide the same service for the same license fee.

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I would also be voting "No". While I understand the feeling many Scots have for wanting a greater say over their own affairs, there are other ways to do so while remaining a part of the UK. In addition, the "Yes" side's promises just don't seem concrete enough; they seem to be way too dependent on prevailing market and political conditions, and the SNP does not have a concrete, detailed plan to address concerns about currency, trade, and membership in organizations like the EU and NATO.

 

Touching on the media, there are contingency plans for Scottish independence with regards to broadcasting. As set out in the white paper:

 

- All existing commercial licenses would be honored. At face value, that means that STV, Channel 4, and Five would keep their licenses to broadcast in Scotland. This, however, bodes serious questions. Would STV keep its ITV affiliation, or would they become a 100% independent and separate network on channel 3? Channel 4 is owned and operated by the British government, so would they pull out and surrender their Scottish license, or would Channel 4 just establish a subsidiary in Scotland?

 

- BBC Scotland would be taken around the corner and shot. The body would then be cut up and the innards would be used to create a new Scottish Broadcasting Service, or SBS. Of course, there are a lot of concerns regarding the new SBS. rkolsen touched on one: the 250 million pounds in license fee money is not adequate to provide Scotland with the same amount of content and output that BBC [scotland] does now. The license fee would have to be increased or SBS would have to accept advertising, much like RTÉ in Ireland. Next is the concern about political bias; I don't even have to touch on this one, some Scots have already taken to calling SBS the "Salmond Broadcasting Corporation" based on the concern that Alex Salmond (SNP leader) will wield a tremendous amount of control over SBS.

 

- And of course, a new broadcasting regulator would be set up to take over the Scottish duties of Ofcom.

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As much as I want it to be a No vote, i have a gut feeling it will be a yes, which is going to be disastrous for Scotland.

 

- First of all; Alex Salmond will lead Scotland into independence. The split will take place in March 2016, while the first election will be in May 2016. Meaning that Scotland has 2 months of Salmond doing what he wants. Essentially ruining the country.

 

- Secondly; Lloyds and even The Royal Bank of Scotland plus more companies have said they will move there HQ down to England if the split happens, which means less revenue and a lower GDP

 

- In third place; Alex Salmond's plan to get his money out of the oil wont work if BP and other petrol companies base themselves in England, David Cameron has also said, that Oil rigs will be split by population and not by rig positioning in respect to the borders, whether this can be made reality or not is another story.

 

- Finally, Scotland have to drop the pound straight away. Salmond intends to use the Euro as a back-up, yet it takes 5 to 10 years to get approval to join the EU... not sure whats going to happen there then... Will Scotland be the first country to go BitCoin? or will Salmond name a currency after himself?

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I haven't researched the debate enough to have an opinion on whether Scotland should be independent or not, but it seems to me that a year and a half to fully divest Scotland from the UK is a ridiculously aggressive timeline. It seems to me that to do it properly would take several years, not a year and a half.

 

The fact that they want to rush it under that short of a timeline makes me question the entire idea.

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A lot of parallels have been made between the Scotland independence referendum and the 1995 Quebec independence referendum. The "No" side had a huge lead until the final weeks provided a "Yes" surge, there was anxiety on both sides, opinion polls that were too close to call, nationalists v. unionists/federalists, and passionate appeals from "No" supporters to stay in the union (Canada/UK).

 

Ultimately, on that pivotal day in 1995 in Quebec, the "No" side scraped out a very narrow victory. Will the same thing happen on Thursday?:

 

[yt]MUKorhH5CFA[/yt]

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- Channel 4 doesn't seem to be doing anything special; I guess they'll just roll whatever happens into their usual "Channel 4 News" program.

 

This isn't really surprising, given that ITV and Channel 4 both get their news from ITN, so there'd probably be a lot of overlap if they both did specials. Also, it seems like Channel 4 doesn't go for newsy election coverage in general. For the last big parliamentary election, they did an "Alternative Election Night" special with a group of political comedians doing a mix of live and pretaped bits and discussions with the occasional quick update as to what the actual results were.

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This isn't really surprising, given that ITV and Channel 4 both get their news from ITN, so there'd probably be a lot of overlap if they both did specials. Also, it seems like Channel 4 doesn't go for newsy election coverage in general. For the last big parliamentary election, they did an "Alternative Election Night" special with a group of political comedians doing a mix of live and pretaped bits and discussions with the occasional quick update as to what the actual results were.

 

Saying that ITV now own a majority stake in ITN, the production endcap for ITN no longer exists on neither ITV News nor Channel 4 News. And the ITN website and app is now called ODN. ITV are removing the ITN brand bit by bit.

 

Saying that, ITV News are providing coverage until the Lunchtime News on Friday. Overnight STV will be doing it, then Friday morning Good Morning Britain will. Good Morning Britain is produced by ITV Studios (with a little help from ITV News).

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It is decision day for Scotland. A few notes:

 

- Polls opened at 07:00 BST (02:00 ET) and close at 22:00 BST (17:00 ET). Thus, there won't be any longform election coverage until 4pm New York time at the earliest.

 

- If you've been watching the UK broadcast media today, you'll notice something odd: the near-total lack of coverage compared to yesterday's frenzy. All UK broadcasters are covered under either the Ofcom Broadcasting Code or, in the case of BBC services, the BBC Trust policy on election coverage. Both codes stipulate that most campaign reporting is to cease the morning of the referendum and may not resume until the polls close, hence the dead silence until 5pm ET today.

 

- The results will be coming in from Scotland's 32 local council areas, which include large cities such as Glasgow and distant islands like the Orkney and Shetland Islands. The first results from the smallest council areas should come in by 02:00 BST (21:00 ET), but the crucial returns from the large cities aren't going to come in until after 06:00 BST (01:00 ET). Luckily for us Americans, the final result in the referendum should come in between 1am and 2am ET.

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I've been intermittently watching coverage on BBC World and found it to be amazing that they are using paper based balloting in 2014 that will be hand counted. Only an X in the box will be counted and a check mark won't be. At a very minimum they should have done a Scantron based ballot that will count automatically.

 

I'm only saying this because this years Indian Parliamentary elections were all electronically based for the billion plus eligible voters and that since 2002 here in Maryland we have used touch screens.

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- Finally, Scotland have to drop the pound straight away. Salmond intends to use the Euro as a back-up, yet it takes 5 to 10 years to get approval to join the EU... not sure whats going to happen there then...

 

Not being in the EU didn't stop Montenegro from unilaterally adopting the euro as its currency after the country became independent.

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The counting isn't over, but it may as well be.

 

The BBC, CBC, ABC (Australia), STV, Sky, and the CBC have all projected a "No" victory. It won't be as close as Quebec 1995.

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Alex Salmond, the First Minister of Scotland has resigned in the wake of the referendum.

 

As a Slovenian, I have a hard time understanding why a nation -- and the Scots are a proud and a historic nation -- would not want to live in their own independent country, but I respect their choice.

 

Catalonia, of course, may end up being a different story.

 

BTW, CNN Domestic's decision not to carry at least the "call" live last night was a disgrace.

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Alex Salmond, the First Minister of Scotland has resigned in the wake of the referendum.

 

As a Slovenian, I have a hard time understanding why a nation -- and the Scots are a proud and a historic nation -- would not want to live in their own independent country, but I respect their choice.

 

Catalonia, of course, may end up being a different story.

 

BTW, CNN Domestic's decision not to carry at least the "call" live last night was a disgrace.

 

I am sure that Scot's would prefer to be an independent country, but given the circumstances/repercussions of such move (economic uncertainty, security, trade, etc, which currency to use, etc.), they really had no choice but to stay. I'm sure that this won't be the end for the independence movement, and if a vote is ever brought back down the road then they need to make sure that they do their due diligence and have everything ready to go immediately.

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Alex Salmond, the First Minister of Scotland has resigned in the wake of the referendum.

 

As a Slovenian, I have a hard time understanding why a nation -- and the Scots are a proud and a historic nation -- would not want to live in their own independent country, but I respect their choice.

 

Catalonia, of course, may end up being a different story.

 

BTW, CNN Domestic's decision not to carry at least the "call" live last night was a disgrace.

 

That would be pretty interesting...Scotland has an independence referendum that all sides agree to, and they vote no, but Catalonia has an independence referendum that only one side agrees to, and they vote yes (possibly by a decisive majority?).

 

And that's just another reason why I don't watch CNN. C-SPAN3 carried the BBC's coverage, and I think they did an adequate job.

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What shocked me was how biased the Spanish media was. Living in Spain i barely watch Spanish TV and stick to ITV News, but I tuned in a bit. TVE and Telecinco / Cuatro were the worst, with Antena 3 / La Sexta not far behind.

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