BBC Scotland has announced it will screen Nicola Sturgeon’s coronavirus briefings over the “coming weeks”, as the corporation looks to adapt how it covers the daily updates from the First Minister.
The broadcaster sparked an outcry when bosses said last week they would no longer always provide live coverage of all of the regular briefings – explaining at the time they would decide if these should be televised based on “editorial merit”.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney branded the move a “matter of regret”, with others from the SNP questioning the move at a time when coronavirus cases are increasing again.
Meanwhile Donald Macaskill of Scottish Care, the body which represents independent care homes, has said he was “very disappointed that in the midst of the largest public health emergency ever that @BBCScotland has decided to cut back coverage”.
Now a BBC Scotland spokesman has confirmed: “Whilst there continue to be major developments in the pandemic in Scotland, we will, over the coming weeks and as we have done this week, look to cover the Scottish Government health briefings live on TV.”
He added: “There are clearly strong editorial reasons for continuing to do so at the moment.”
Meanwhile, BBC Scotland is now looking to “enhance” its coverage of the briefings, by bringing in “other voices and other perspectives”.
Scottish Conservatives had previously criticised the broadcaster for the amount of coverage it was giving the First Minister.
And 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 that “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.”
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