Scotland’s shadow culture secretary has insisted the Tories are not opposed to the idea of a “Scottish Six” news bulletin on the BBC – as it emerged STV will be launching its own version next year.
Jackson Carlaw admitted he could understand the frustrations over the main UK news bulletin not reflecting modern-day Scotland.
He said he did not believe in conspiracy theories over the BBC and the Scottish Six, and insisted it would be wrong to suggest the Tories were “hostile” over its introduction.
He was speaking at a broadcasting conference in Edinburgh as STV announced it would be creating a new half-hour show bringing together Scottish, UK and international news for the first time.
It said the new show, STV News Tonight – which will go out each weekday evening at 7pm on its second channel – will reflect the “unique news agenda of a devolved nation”. STV will use its own 160-strong team, as well as ITV’s international and UK news resources.
The plans have emerged days after the BBC confirmed it was pressing ahead with plans for a new early evening broadcast after its new Royal Charter was published. At the time UK culture secretary Karen Bradley insisted a decision on a Scottish Six was up to the BBC.
BBC Scotland has been making different pilot broadcasts of what a potential “Scottish Six” show could look like over the last few months. A decision on whether to give the show the go-ahead is not expected until later this year.
Mr Carlaw said: “I’m getting lots of emails from people saying that it [the Scottish Six] is clearly politically-motivated and a complete conspiracy against anyone one who believes in the United Kingdom. I don’t see it like that.
“When the secretary of state said it was very much an editorial decision for the BBC, I agree with that. It is also a matter of real concern for viewers.
“I recognise the frustration with the national news at six o’clock that the domestic agenda, when it talks exclusively about the NHS, education or policing or other issues that are of particular interest down south, it actually colours the perception of viewers in Scotland about what is happening in political terms too.
“It almost diminishes understanding that many of these issues are devolved and we are pursuing them in a different way. I can see that aspect of the argument.
“I just come back to whether it would be ghastly or a programme which manages to achieve the values that people expect of a national broadcaster representing the affairs of the world to people in Scotland, from Scotland, without compromising that quality and spirit.”