Borderers still being frozen out of referendum TV coverage


SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has condemned broadcasters for continuing to leave Borderers frozen out of the referendum TV coverage.

The South Scotland MSP has written to Michael Jermey, Director of News, Current Affairs and Sport at ITV, condemning ITV Borders for leaving some people living in the area unable to watch the new STV series Road to Referendum.

Many areas in the Borders do not have access to Scottish programming, creating a situation where those closest bordering England have truncated access to the independence debate.  Road to Referendum is a three-part series that examines the history and development of the independence question in Scotland.

Some Borders were also unable to watch the second installment of the popular referendum debate series featuring Nicola Sturgeon and Anas Sarwar.  This was the same situation as the programme’s first head-to-head independence debate in June.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:

“At such an important political juncture in Scotland’s history I do not intend to give in and accept that simply by virtue of geography, viewers on the Scottish side of the ITV Border region should be denied the same access to referendum coverage as someone who, for example, lives 20 miles away in Edinburgh.

“People in the Borders have exactly the same rights as people in the rest of the country in seeing all types of referendum coverage.

“Some Borderers are at a disadvantage being denied access to programming that the rest of the country is receiving to inform the debate.

“Having previously discussed this with ITV I was assured they would continue to talk to STV about programming they produce and take a view on a case-by-case basis whether to broadcast the same programme on ITV Border.  

“I would be interested to know how the decision not to broadcast this particular programme was reached.”

MEANWHILE, there is confusion over the Labour party’s stance on the Bedroom Tax after its deputy Scottish leader Anas Sarwar MP appeared to contradict the official party line.

Appearing in STV’s special debate on independence and the issue of welfare, Sarwar claimed the party would abolish the controversial legislation if it was in power at Westminster.

Quizzed on his party’s plans, the MP for Glasgow Central said: “We have been clear.  If we were in power tomorrow, we would abolish the bedroom tax.”

Asked whether his comments accorded with leader Ed Miliband’s policy stance, the MP repeated the remark: “No, we have been clear that if we were in government tomorrow, we would abolish the bedroom tax.”

Labour’s stance on the Bedroom Tax is mired in confusion.  This week the Mirror newspaper reported that Labour would indeed scrap the Bedroom Tax.  The paper reported a senior Labour source saying: “Labour WILL repeal the Bedroom Tax. The only question remaining is when.”

However pressed this week by PM David Cameron, Labour leader Ed Miliband refused to confirm his party would indeed scrap the controversial legislation.

In March this year, Labour MP Helen Goodman revealed Labour planned to keep the Bedroom Tax for people who refused to move to smaller accommodation.