Election 2010: Sky the limit for Alex Salmond as television debates row rumbles on

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ALEX Salmond has agreed to take part in a televised Scottish leaders' debate on Sky News, but will shun the equivalent events held by the BBC and STV, it was announced yesterday.

Ending weeks of speculation, the First Minister confirmed he would be the SNP representative on the Sky programme, which will also feature Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy, his Tory shadow, David Mundell, and the Lib Dems' Alistair Carmichael.

The debate will take place in Edinburgh on Sunday 25 April and will be broadcast live.

But the party's leader in Westminster, Angus Robertson, will appear on the equivalent events on the other channels, in a move opponents are interpreting as a snub to the broadcasters because of their intransigence over the debates between the three main UK party leaders.

The SNP has all but conceded Mr Salmond will be shut out of the main prime ministerial broadcasts on ITV and Sky, but the party harbours hopes of persuading the BBC to stage a fourth nationwide debate with Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg alongside representatives of the SNP and Plaid Cymru.

Mr Salmond said: "Sky, as opposed to other broadcasters, is broadcasting its debate across the UK and giving it the same billing as the English debates. We are in an extraordinary situation where the BBC is carving the debates up with the London parties."

A Labour spokesman said the move was "hugely embarrassing" for Mr Robertson.

"If he's good enough for STV and BBC, why not Sky?" he asked. "The BBC are organising a debate with Holyrood leaders and Westminster leaders, but it seems that the SNP have been thrown into confusion on this issue."

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