STV ‘ran away’ from referendum programme says Cameron


  By a Newsnet reporter
UK Prime Minister David Cameron has claimed Scottish Television backed out of an offer of a referendum TV debate involving himself and undecided voters.
The Prime Minister made the claim in response to a question from SNP MP Angus Robertson, who reminded the Conservative leader of a pledge he had made during a trip to Scotland this year.

Mr Cameron was asked if he intended to honour a committment he had given earlier this year to face undecided voters in a special programme to be broadcast by STV.

Responding, the PM said: “On the television programme, I offered them [STV] a date and indeed a format but they seemed to run away themselves which is a great pity.”

In February, Mr Cameron pledged to take part in a televised question/answer session involving floating voters.  Asked by STV Political Editor Bernard Ponsonby if he would agree to take part in a televised STV broadcast, the Prime Minister said he would be “delighted”.

The claims by the Conservative leader that STV backed out after he followed up on the offer will cause surprise amongst many in the Scottish media.  An appearance by the UK Prime Minister in a televised referendum discussion would have been seen as a major coup for the Glasgow based broadcaster and would have attracted millions of viewers from across the UK.

Mr Cameron has consistently refused to take part in a TV debate with First Minister Alex Salmond insisting instead that the No campaign be represented by Better Together leader Alistair Darling.

In a statement tonight, a spokewoman for STV responded to Mr Cameron’s claim and said: “STV proposed a format for this programme in January. This was rejected by Downing Street and the alternative editorial specification suggested by the Prime Minister’s office was not acceptable to STV.

“We are aware that undecided voters would appreciate the opportunity to put their questions to the Prime Minister before the referendum vote and as such STV’s programme offer still stands.”