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BBC react to calls to scrap broadcast of First Minister Covid-19 press conferences

20 Nov 2020 3 minute read
Mark Drakeford the First Minister of Wales. Picture by the Welsh Government

The BBC have reacted to calls to scrap the broadcast of First Minister’s press conferences by saying that they are giving equal time to government leaders across the UK.

The broadcaster has been under pressure in Scotland not to broadcast Nicola Sturgeon’s daily Covid-19 briefings.

However, the BBC responded that it gave airtime to the leaders of the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments, as well as opposition leaders in all three nations.

The spokesman said: “We follow a similar approach to coverage across the UK, with briefings from the Labour Welsh Government shown in Wales on BBC One there, and briefings from the UK Government shown across the UK.

“Indeed, looking over the last week from Wednesday, November 11 to yesterday, there have been three Scottish Government briefings broadcast by BBC One Scotland, three Welsh Government briefings broadcast by BBC One Wales and UK Government briefings also shown across the UK.”

Their response came after criticism by former UK Government minister and former Labour MP Brian Wilson, who accused the state of broadcaster of being “taken for a ride” in Scotland.

Writing in The Scotsman, Brian Wilson labelled the briefings an “exercise in political spin and news management”.



In September, BBC Wales said it will no longer broadcast every Welsh government coronavirus briefing on TV.

It announced that briefings will only be shown live “when significant announcements are made”.

Earlier the same day BBC Scotland confirmed it was halting live coverage of the government’s daily press briefings.

However, the broadcaster quickly reversed the decision when Covid-19 cases began to climb towards a second peak.

A spokesman for the BBC said the decision to continue airing the briefings was made on the basis of “editorial judgement and listening to our audiences” while adding it remained committed to having a “broad coverage” of voices and perspectives.

He said: “Coverage of the briefings are made on the basis of editorial judgement and listening to our audiences. Over the past weeks, for example, we have continued to broadcast the briefings live while the number of new cases is high; there are significant restrictions on business, hospitality and travel across much of the country; and our audiences are looking for public health information.

“We will also 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, as it does at present, to incorporate a range of voices and perspectives. This will allow us to bring news and views from around Scotland and beyond, involving politicians from across the political spectrum, as well as commentators, analysts and other experts.

“We remain committed to having this broad coverage of voices and perspectives across all our news outlets on television, radio and online.”

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