An East Renfrewshire politician has called for reform of the television licence fee to ensure the BBC is able to compete with streaming services and survive over the long-term.

Speaking in a Holyrood debate, Eastwood MSP Jackson Carlaw highlighted the popularity of streaming services such as Netflix, Apple, Disney, Now and Paramount amongst younger generations and the challenges this presents for the BBC.

He noted that many people aged under 35 are no longer paying the licence fee because they are instead watching programmes available on streaming platforms.

Mr Carlaw said that, to ensure the BBC has a future, a revised funding model must be adopted.

The proceedings in the Scottish Parliament took place to mark the 100th anniversary of the BBC in Scotland.

A review of the licence fee and investigation of alternative funding arrangements is expected to take place in future years.

Mr Carlaw, of the Scottish Conservatives, said: “When people of my generation were growing up, the BBC was watched by 20 million people every week but, today, programmes on terrestrial television are sometimes at the top of the top 10 with as few as 3.5 million viewers.

“In an environment where the licence fee will be increasingly irrelevant for younger people, who use streaming services and get their media and entertainment in different ways, the BBC will struggle to survive on this funding model.

“Considering it’s brand recognition, the BBC could become one of the world’s most successful international streaming services and compete with all of today’s major streaming companies.

“I support the principle of the licence fee but, as a funding model over the next 10 or 20 years, it will not be a reliable source of income for the BBC.

“The licence fee might be part of the mix but there will also have to be something beyond that if the BBC is to survive and prosper.”