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Positive news BBC urged to reinstate live TV coverage of Scotland coronavirus briefings


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Positive news BBC urged to reinstate live TV coverage of Scotland coronavirus briefings

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionCoronavirus: First Minister says it is for ‘BBC to decide’ on Covid TV briefings The first minister has said her ability to communicate directly with the public is “more important than ever” following the BBC’s decision to reduce its live TV broadcasts of the Scottish government’s coronavirus…

Positive news BBC urged to reinstate live TV coverage of Scotland coronavirus briefings

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Media captionCoronavirus: First Minister says it is for ‘BBC to decide’ on Covid TV briefings

The first minister has said her ability to communicate directly with the public is “more important than ever” following the BBC’s decision to reduce its live TV broadcasts of the Scottish government’s coronavirus briefing.

However, Nicola Sturgeon said it was for the corporation rather than politicians to decide what was televised.

It comes after the BBC said it would continue to stream the briefings online but would only show them live on TV based on their “news value”.

Ms Sturgeon made the comments during Friday’s briefing at St Andrews House.

She said the briefings were a vital public service as Covid cases accelerated, especially for vulnerable groups.

Ms Sturgeon said that included older people – particularly those who were shielding – and people with hearing difficulties.

She said: “What has struck me over the period that these briefings have been televised is that they have been particularly important to certain sections of the population that maybe don’t routinely go onto the internet.

“We are in unique circumstances right now and the ability for me and my colleagues to communicate directly with the public has never been more important.

“So, it’s for the BBC (to decide). All I would ask is that they take that into account in the decisions that they make.”

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The briefings from Ms Sturgeon and other ministers or health officials have previously been broadcast on BBC One Scotland and the BBC Scotland channel, as well as being streamed on the BBC News website and featuring on BBC Radio Scotland.

Average viewing figures have been 280,000 on BBC One Scotland and 40,000 on BBC Scotland, but the corporation has been reviewing its coverage now the Scottish Parliament has more or less returned to normal business and other sectors are reopening.

Ian Small, head of Public Policy & Corporate Affairs at BBC Scotland, said a decision on which briefings would be broadcast live would be led by “what information is being imparted by the Scottish government”.

He said: “Where it is appropriate to cover the briefings in their entirety, on TV, we will do so. That is not, nor has it ever been, in question.”

The BBC has confirmed there will be full live TV coverage on Monday 14 September, to cover the introduction of new lockdown restrictions in Scotland.

Mr Small said: “We emphasise that we will keep these arrangements under review and will, as said, cover the live briefings on television when it is right and in the public interest to do so.”

The Scottish Conservatives have claimed Nicola Sturgeon has at times used the daily briefings as a political platform to criticise the UK government.

At the weekend, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross suggested that now the Scottish Parliament was up and running again, this was a more appropriate forum for making announcements, as it would allow MSPs to challenge the first minister when appropriate.

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Nicola Sturgeon said she had “always taken great care to try and not stray into political territory”.

However, she added: “I’m not saying I have never slipped up – I am fallible – but I have always recognised my responsibility to keep these briefings very much on topic.

“That’s because I want people, regardless of their politics, to be able to listen to and hear the messages that are so important.”

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