BBC to continue broadcasting coronavirus briefings

The corporation announced last week it would only televise the briefings when major developments were expected.

BBC to continue broadcasting coronavirus briefings STV

BBC Scotland said it intends to continue broadcasting live television coverage of the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefings “over the coming weeks”.

The corporation sparked outrage last week when it announced it would stream the briefings online, but would only televise them when major developments were expected.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it was for the BBC rather than politicians to decide what is televised, but highlighted that the live broadcasts were beneficial to older people – particularly those who are shielding – and people with hearing difficulties.

On Thursday, a BBC Scotland spokesman said: “Whilst there continue to be major developments in the pandemic in Scotland, we will, over the coming weeks and as we have done this week, look to cover the Scottish Government health briefings live on TV.

“There are clearly strong editorial reasons for continuing to do so at the moment.

“As we said last week, such decisions will always be made on the basis of editorial judgement and listening to our audiences. We will always take full account of how the pandemic continues to evolve to inform that judgement.

“Our coverage of coronavirus and public health issues in Scotland will continue to incorporate a range of voices and perspectives, and this will be further enhanced as part of our ongoing coverage of the Scottish Government briefings.

“We will incorporate other voices and other perspectives into the briefings, bringing news and views from around Scotland and beyond, involving politicians from across the political spectrum, as well as commentators, analysts and other experts.” 

BBC One Scotland and the BBC Scotland channel have screened the briefings live since March.

Sturgeon said last week: “What is broadcast on the BBC is a matter for the BBC but we are in unique circumstances right now and the ability for me and my colleagues to communicate directly with the public has never been more important than it is right now.

“I have always taken great care to try not to stray into political territory, I’m not saying I’ve never slipped up – I am fallible.

“But I’ve always recognised my responsibility to keep these briefings very much on topic because I want people regardless of their politics to be able to listen and hear the messages that are so important.”

Following the BBC’s statement, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We welcome the decision by the BBC to continue to broadcast the regular live media briefings by the First Minister over the coming weeks.

“These briefings continue to be the most used source of information about the Covid-19 pandemic in Scotland and are used to disseminate the latest public health guidance on coronavirus, as well as important information about services and support for people and the economy.

“They also provide an opportunity for scrutiny from the media with ten to 20 members of the media participating every day.”

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