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BBC accused of ‘giving in’ to SNP ahead of Holyrood election | UK | News

Critics claimed the Corporation was “stacking” May’s ballot within the First Minister’s “favour” by permitting the hour-long coronavirus broadcast on air. The Scottish Tories stated Ms Sturgeon had “consistently” used her press conferences to launch political assaults, significantly on the UK Government. Party chief Douglas Ross stated public well being officers ought to lead the briefings. It got here after the bosses confirmed Ms Sturgeon may nonetheless present some updates regardless of modifications in protection ahead of the ballot.

The BBC’s guidelines state that “special considerations apply” over impartiality throughout election campaigns.

Ms Sturgeon this week signalled she would hand over the briefings over to senior advisers however should still talk “big decisions”.

In a letter to Mr Ross, BBC Scotland director Steve Carson stated the broadcaster might be adapting its protection within the run-up to the election. 

He stated it can “only broadcast live briefings on BBC One in Scotland and in Wales where we anticipate major new information being shared”.

Mr Carson stated extra protection might be included to permit Scottish events to reply to any UK Government briefings which might be broadcast dwell on BBC One. 

He added: “For any other government briefings, we will consider both the significance of the public health information expected to be discussed and the requirement for the BBC to exercise due impartiality. 

“Given the current trajectory of the pandemic, we anticipate these briefings would be available either on BBC Two Wales, on the BBC Scotland channel or on the BBC News channel.” 

He stated the brand new strategy might be launched by March 24. 

But Mr Ross stated: “The SNP have repeatedly tried to exploit these briefings during the pandemic to gain votes and push for another referendum.

“We have argued for months that 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.

“The shameful decision to let the SNP continue these briefings will have deeply damaging consequences for democracy in Scotland.

“BBC Scotland are stacking the 2021 election in the SNP’s favour and allowing Nicola Sturgeon to dictate what they air and when, while the Scottish Conservatives have to fight for every minute of coverage.

“The SNP leader will be able to manipulate the media cycle at will to cover up more damaging revelations about the Alex Salmond case or to hide that she’s pushing for indyref2 as early as this year.

“The Scottish Conservatives will not let this decision prevent us stopping an SNP majority and halting their push for indyref2 just like we did at the last election.”

On Tuesday, TV watchdog Ofcom dismissed complaints that the briefings are biased in favour of the SNP.

After receiving 4 complaints, the regulator assessed 16 hours of the briefings which have been broadcast between September and December final year.

They stated they discovered no points that warranted an official investigation beneath the Broadcasting Code.

But Lord Foulkes, the Labour peer, stated: “The BBC are giving in to pressure from SNP again and Ofcom are toothless as I know from my complaint.

“Opposition parties should nevertheless object vigorously. However Sturgeon is now so discredited and ridiculed it may backfire.”

The broadcasts happen most weekdays, and are proven on the BBC Scotland channel.

An various format, which incorporates interviews with opposition politicians after Ms Sturgeon makes her opening remarks, is proven on BBC One in Scotland.

Appearing earlier than Holyrood’s Covid-19 committee on Wednesday the First Minister stated it might not be “business as normal” within the marketing campaign interval.

But she additionally stated as First Minister she had an obligation to talk any main choices relating to the virus to the general public.

She added: “I fully understand the importance of the election and the democratic process and it is not in my interest to in any way to be seen to be abusing the position of First Minister, and I will not do that.”

A Scottish Government supply final evening stated: “This is an extraordinary outburst from Douglas Ross. 

“For the Scottish Tory leader to attack BBC Scotland in this way simply shows how rattled the Tories are.” 

A BBC Scotland spokesman stated: “Our aim is to ensure that our commitment to providing key public health information to our audiences continues to be fulfilled without compromising our duty to fairness and impartiality across our broadcast coverage – as independent regulator Ofcom recognised when they said earlier this week that our coverage to date preserved due impartiality and was contextualised.

“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, as set out in the BBC election guidelines and in OFCOM’s election guidance.”

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