BBC dodges questions on whether daily SNP briefings will continue during election

Discussions between political parties and the BBC around the potential of continued broadcasting of the Scottish Government’s daily coronavirus briefings have led to nought as the broadcaster dodges questions on its plans for the Holyrood election.

BBC bosses have come under significant pressure during the pandemic around the airing of the Covid-19 briefings, with opposition parties arguing they provide the SNP with an uninterrupted and unchallenged platform to the public.

Meanwhile, the SNP have also complained the broadcasting of opposition reaction following the briefing without SNP responses raises questions about impartiality.

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However, the Scottish Conservatives confirmed to The Scotsman that despite requests for clarity about the coming election campaign, no answers have been forthcoming.

The BBC dodged questions on the future of the daily coronavirus briefings.

A senior party source said: “The BBC seem to have no plan for the briefings. They appear to be waiting for the SNP to make a decision.”

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Asked four questions about its plans for the Scottish Government briefings during the election period by this newspaper, the BBC failed to answer any of them.

The broadcaster was asked whether the briefings would continue to air during the election period, whether the BBC would offer a similar platform to opposition parties, and what form these would take.

The BBC was also asked how it would achieve impartiality and party balance during the election period while broadcasting the daily Covid-19 briefings.

In response, a spokesperson said: “We're finalising plans for our election coverage and will announce details in due course.”

Nothing has been made public about the BBC’s plans for the election campaign coverage at this stage.

A Scottish Conservative spokesperson repeated their call for the briefings to continue, but only if fronted by public health officials.

They said: “We have said repeatedly that the briefings should continue, but only with public health officials giving out essential information, not with SNP ministers making political points.

“We can confirm that discussions have been held with BBC Scotland and we have repeatedly asked them what will happen in the short campaign, since balanced coverage is essential for a fair election.”

The BBC had previously told The Scotsman that “coverage of the briefings are made on the basis of editorial judgement and listening to our audiences”.

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