Debate or no debate - ITV’s dilemma

ITV programme makers have made a last minute decision to allow viewers in the Scottish Borders to see the televised Scottish Debates which they had originally only planned to show on STV and Grampian.

The first of the two debates took place on Tuesday, and the second, involving the leaders of Scotland’s main political parties SNP’s Alex Salmond, Labour’s Iain Gray, the Tories’ Annabel Goldie and the Lib Dem’s Tavish Scott, will be shown on Tuesday, May 3, prior to the Scottish Parliament elections on Thursday, May 5.

However, viewers in the ITV Tyne Tees and Borders region will see the debate after the rest of Scotland - at 10.35pm instead of 8.30pm.

Christine Grahame SNP candidate for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale contacted ITV after discovering that Borders viewers would be unable to see the Scottish Debate, accusing them of “subverting democracy north of the Border for ITV viewers in the Scottish Borders”, adding that people in the region are angry that they are receiving a second class service from ITV.

ITV’s original response had been: “The programme which is being broadcast by STV on March 29, is not being shown by ITV - sorry to disappoint.”

Following confirmation that ITV will now broadcast of political debates in Scotland in the run up to the Scottish Parliament elections, Ms Grahame said: “It is unfortunate that viewers in the Scottish Borders were still being told by ITV customer services only a few days ago that this broadcast was not going to take place.

“Bosses at ITV have now contacted me and assured me they do now plan to show the debate and have also updated their view services handlers with the most updated information.

“It is vital that viewers in the Scottish Borders get the chance to see these debates and I am delighted that will now be the case.”