Surge in Fringe television coverage not enough to appease MSP's anger
TELEVISION coverage of this year's Fringe acts has surged, helped by the popularity of big comedy shows, the director of one of the event's biggest venues said yesterday.
For years, leading Festival figures have complained that Edinburgh does not get the TV exposure it deserves.
But the Pleasance director, Anthony Alderson, said: "We've had an unbelievable number of requests from television broadcasters. It's not just all the online coverage that's growing. But it's everything from The One Show to BBC Breakfast."
The One Show, on BBC1, has been interviewing figures such as Lionel Blair, who is starring in School for Scandal.
GMTV was broadcasting yesterday from two other major venues, the Underbelly and the Gilded Balloon, said Mr Alderson. Sky Arts made a half-hour documentary on his venue, while this weekend Channel 4 will broadcast its T4 breaks between programmes from the Fringe.
But Shirley-Anne Somerville, the SNP MSP for the Lothians, took a different tack yesterday. Echoing recent comments by the Assembly venue director, William Burdett Coutts, she called for greater TV coverage of the festivals.
She claimed the BBC has assigned only 230 staff to the month-long festival season in Edinburgh, compared with 300 for T in the Park over three days, and 400 for the Glastonbury music festival over four days.
"There's a vast array of events going on in Edinburgh of national and international importance," she said.
"It's disappointing that BBC TV provides such popular and well-received coverage for rock festivals, while the largest arts festival in the world gets little more than a few reviews in some evening culture shows."
Her comments came in the wake of an Ofcom report which showed that the BBC and STV cut spending in Scotland by 13 million last year, the biggest drop among the four nations in the UK. Mr Alderson said: "The problem Edinburgh has always had is that it's spread across a city, and it's really difficult to get the essence of what Edinburgh is on television."
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