Sturgeon’s TV briefings will FINALLY be probed by rival politicians after BBC U-turn

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The Corporation has said that it will look to adapt to how it covers the daily updates from the First Minister. The broadcaster sparked an outcry when bosses hinted last week they would no longer always provide live coverage of all of the regular briefings.

It explained at the time they would decide if these should be televised based on “editorial merit” before appearing to make a U-turn days later.

Now in an email sent to BBC Scotland staff on Thursday, director Donalda MacKinnon revealed: “We will incorporate other voices and other perspectives alongside the briefings, bringing news and views from around Scotland and beyond, involving politicians from across the political spectrum, as well as commentators, analysts and other experts.”

In the email, Ms MacKinnon stressed that “we did not say that we’d stop coverage of the briefings”, but she added “as a public service broadcaster we do have to ensure that our coverage is fair to everyone”.

She stated: “We’ve said now that we’ll look at the briefings in the round – meaning we’ll broadcast them live on TV when we are in a period of the pandemic when there is significant public information being shared, such as new measures being introduced and implemented, rising rates of cases, a three weekly review update or other public information.”

 

This live coverage will be in addition to “significant” coverage in the BBC’s television news bulletins, and radio and online services, the spokesman said.

He added: “As we said last week, such decisions will always be made on the basis of editorial judgment and listening to our audiences.

“We will always take full account of how the pandemic continues to evolve to inform that judgment.

“Our coverage of coronavirus and public health issues in Scotland will continue to incorporate a range of voices and perspectives, and this will be further enhanced as part of our ongoing coverage of the Scottish Government briefings.

“This will allow us to bring news and views from around Scotland and beyond, involving politicians from across the political spectrum, as well as commentators, analysts and other experts.

“We remain committed to having this broad coverage of voices and perspectives across all our news outlets on television, radio and online.”

Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser, said: “For too long, the First Minister’s daily briefing has been a political platform for the SNP.

“A lack of proper scrutiny, giving journalists the amount of time they really need to ask probing questions, has been obvious from the beginning.

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“The best place to interrogate the government on its COVID-19 strategy is in Parliament.

“In the absence of that, I welcome the BBC’s decision to give a voice to experts who can cut through the spin.”

But an SNP spokesperson said: “We very much welcomed the fact that the BBC abandoned its plans to scrap coronavirus briefings being live on TV.

“If the BBC wishes to extend its coverage around these briefings, we encourage them to prioritise advice from the professional public health community.

“The last thing the public need is a platform for misinformation and personal viewpoints that are at odds with science.”

Since the start of the pandemic, the briefings have attracted average audiences of 208,000 on BBC One whilst a longer version, on the BBC Scotland channel, has been watched by 40,000 people on average.

The briefings are currently shown four days a week live on both BBC One Scotland and the BBC Scotland channel, with some coverage also included as part of BBC Radio Scotland’s Lunchtime Live programme.

The Scottish Conservatives had previously criticised the broadcaster for the amount of coverage it was giving the First Minister whilst Deputy First Minister John Swinney branded the move a “matter of regret”.

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