Coronavirus in Scotland: This is why there is no Scottish Government Covid-19 briefing on the BBC today

The BBC will no longer broadcast daily coronavirus briefings held by the Scottish Government, as purdah kicked in ahead of the Holyrood election in May.

Instead, BBC Scotland confirmed earlier this month that it will now only air the briefings when “major new information” is expected to be announced, and added that whenever a briefing is led by a Scottish Government minister, members of the other main parties will be invited to contribute to the coverage.

Impartiality rules came into force on Wednesday, March 24, as the Scottish Parliament went into an informal recess ahead of the election campaign.

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

The corporation will also consider how significant the new public health information expected to be discussed at each briefing is before deciding whether to broadcast it.

The BBC hopes the measures will strike a balance between its duty not to give undue prominence to one political party and its commitment to helping deliver key public health information during the pandemic.

It comes after opposition parties complained that the First Minister’s regular television appearances would give her an unfair advantage during the election.

Scottish Conservative leader, Douglas Ross, said: "public health officials could and should lead these briefings to deliver essential public health messages without SNP ministers using Covid-19 for political point scoring.”

Earlier this month, Ms Sturgeon told MSPs that she would not appear at all Scottish Government daily briefings during the campaign.

The BBC will no longer broadcast daily coronavirus briefings held by the Scottish Government, as purdah kicked in ahead of the Holyrood election in May.

She said: "It will not be business as normal during the election campaign but we will still be in a crisis and therefore we need to make sure we are serving the public appropriately.

"If there are big decisions that we are having to make during the election period,” she added, “then I have a duty to communicate to the public what they are."

In a statement, a spokesperson for the BBC said: "Our aim is to ensure that our commitment to providing key public health information to our audiences continues to be fulfilled.

“In all cases, our editorial decisions will be based on two considerations: the significance of the public health information to be discussed at the briefing, and the requirement for the BBC to exercise due impartiality during the election period."

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.

 0 comments

Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.