All-Scotland ITV service wanted

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TELEVISION viewers across the Borders must be given the chance to watch their ITV programmes from a broadcaster in Scotland rather than the north of England, according to a new report.

The Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce has urged regulators to go back to the drawing board and put in place plans for a Channel 3 station serving the whole of Scotland.

In a hard-hitting response to Ofcom’s consultation for new ITV licences from 2015, the SBCC says that an all-Scotland service providing distinctive Scottish programming in areas such as politics, sport, entertainment and culture is the only sensible option. At present, viewers across the south of Scotland get their Channel 3 programmes from ITV Border, with a production centre based in Gateshead. The franchise also serves much of Cumbria and means that viewers in its Scottish transmission area receive virtually no dedicated news, current affairs or sports programming from the rest of Scotland.

Ofcom has ruled out auctioning an all-Scotland licence from 2015 - but in a highly detailed response, the Chamber - the leading business organisation in the Borders - has asked it to think again. In a damning report, it says: “We believe the current franchise to be muddled, culturally incoherent and anachronistic. It makes no sense in the 21st century.”

SBCC draws attention to the fact that viewers in the Border TV area cannot see Scotland Tonight, the current affairs programme broadcast across the rest of Scotland by STV. It urges Border TV and STV to open talks to allow Scotland Tonight to be shown throughout southern of Scotland as soon as possible.