Nicola Sturgeon has backed the proposed introduction of a stand-alone BBC “Scottish Six” evening news bulletin - and pledged not to attempt to “influence” the stories it covers.
The First Minister told MSPs that the BBC does not “reflect” the variety of cultural life in Scotland since devolution and said a programme covering local, national and international stories from a Scots perspective could help change this.
BBC Scotland is believed to be running pilots of the show after director-general Tony Hall recently pledged more controls for BBC chiefs in Scotland during an appearance before MSPs.
“I welcome it - I think it’s a good idea,” Ms Sturgeon said on the prospect of a Scottish Six at First Ministers Questions today.
“The UK has of course changed dramatically since devolution, but I think in some respects the BBC has still to catch up with those changes and deliver news programming that reflects the complexity, the variety and the richness of life in Scotland.
“So we do welcome the proposals to introduce a dedicated news service for BBC Scotland. I’m sure it will draw on the very best of our journalistic talent of the very highest standard.”
The SNP had been critical of the SNP’s coverage of the referendum campaign, with Nationalist activists staging a number of demos outside BBC headquarters in Glasgow amid claims of bias in the corporation’s coverage. It has prompted concerns that SNP demands for greater control of broadcasting in Scotland could result in pressure form a nationalist Government to pressurise the direction of editorial decisions.
Tory MSP Liz Smith told Ms Sturgeon today that any Scottish Six “should be entirely free from Government and politicians - some of whom in recent years have sought to influence what is broadcast on the BBC.”
Ms Sturgeon retorted that the Conservative Government at Westminster should “stop interfering in the BBC.”
But she added: “On a serious note, I do agree with that point.”