A former presenter on BBC Scotland's news flagship, Reporting Scotland, has criticised the awarding of a TV news pilot contract on channel 3 to a consortium comprising, among others, newspaper publishers Johnston Press and the Herald & Times Group – and what he describes as a subsequent “conspiracy of silence” across some of the country’s leading newspapers questioning the decision.
On his website, Scottish Review, Kenneth Roy, writes about a recent decision by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to choose the newspaper-based consortium as its preferred operator of a publicly-funded news service on channel 3, ahead of a mainly TV-based one including current provider, STV.
The rival bid – for the independently-funded news consortia (IFNC) contract – that included STV offered to run an hour-long early evening news bulletin, comprising international and UK, as well as Scottish, news, delivered from Scotland.
Roy writes: “No one would make great claims for the news service of Scottish Television. It is poor; sometimes embarrassingly so. But with an extra £6 million a year [£16 million offered by the government, minus £10 million it currently is understood to be spending on Scotland Today, etc] at its disposal, no doubt it would be very much better; we would certainly be entitled to expect some impovement.
“It was encouraging that, in applying for the contract, it was anxious to emphasise the integrity of Scotland as a nation. There was some seriousness in this approach, a recognition that we have had a devolved parliament for 11 years and that broadcasting in Scotland needs to reflect our radically different situation.”
The Tories have intimated the pilot – and similar ones scheduled for Wales and Tyne Tees/Border – will not go ahead should they win the General Election.