TELEVISION viewers in the Borders are not keen on a Scotland-wide news programme and want to retain local news programmes such as ‘Lookaround’.
When Ofcom published their report on the future provision of TV programming in the South of Scotland it was clear that local programmes remain important to people in the region. A submission to the report by ITV outlined that ‘the audience for the early evening regional news programme on Border, ‘Lookaround’, was split broadly in line with the population in the Scottish and English areas and achieved the highest audience share of any Channel 3 regional news programme, including those offered by STV and UTV’.
John Lamont MSP said: “This is an important report and rightly recognises the demand for a local news service that is more tailored to us in the Borders. This has been shown not only in research data but in the continued popularity of ‘Lookaround’, which sees it comfortably outperform similar programmes elsewhere in the UK.
“I am very pleased that Ofcom would consider a dedicated regional service for the South of Scotland. Local programming can be a huge help in keeping people in touch with what’s going on in their region, something which is especially important in a rural region such as ours.
“What we must not see is a situation where we in the Borders are absorbed into a homogenous Scotland-wide service. This would undoubtedly lead to a drop in local content and that is something that I am sure many local residents would be totally against.”
Borders MP Michael Moore is adamant that any future changes to Channel 3 provision must give Borderers ‘the best possible deal’.
He said: “I welcome Ofcom’s report which sets out the options for Channel 3 after its broadcast licences expire at the end of 2014 and emphasises the importance of regional services to meet the needs of areas such as the Borders. This is certainly an interesting submission from ITV and emphasises that any change to the license arrangements post 2014 needs to ensure that we get the best deal which suits the needs and preferences of Borderers.
“I will be meeting STV and ITV in the near future to discuss the report and what it means for the future of coverage in the South of Scotland.”
South of Scotland Liberal Democrat MSP Jim Hume added: “Ofcom’s report is welcome because it recognises the importance of tailoring a regional service to the aspirations of viewers across South Scotland.
“I would not wish to see a ‘one size fits all’ approach.”