Anyone who was flicking TV channels while the Lockerbie bomber was being taken from Greenock prison to Glasgow airport, on his way to Libya on Thursday, would have been forgiven for thinking the BBC had been the only news operation quick enough off the mark to have a helicopter on hand to film the convoy.
While BBC Scotland fed the BBC's 24-hour news channel with continuous footage of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi’s transfer from prison to the airport, rival outfit, Sky managed much less.
Earlier in the day, Scottish justice secretary, Kenny MacAskill, had announced al-Megrahi could return to Libya, on compassionate grounds.
Except that Sky did have a helicopter. But, at the crucial moment, it suffered the bad luck of the helicopter having to be re-fuelled, meaning only a few seconds of aerial shots.
Not that any broadcaster will have been pleased how MacAskill’s announcement comprised a statement that lasted far too long for either live TV or radio. Sure, it began at 1pm, to coincide with various lunchtime bulletins. But, after about ten minutes of what was proving to be lengthy background awaiting an eventual conclusion, BBC One’s lunchtime news had to excuse itself, to go to other news.
At least it had a voice-over to smooth the transition. No longer operating continuity announcers, BBC Radio Scotland fared less well, its Radio nan Gàidheal crashing out of MacAskill and into Janice Forsyth’s Radio Cafe without any warning.
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