IN reponse to the announcement that local TV licences in Scotland have been awarded to STV, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop has voiced concerns that local news coverage in the south of Scotland is once again being overlooked.
At the moment viewers in the Borders receive the same news coverage as residents in north east England and south west Scotland meaning that bulletins can cover anywhere between Middlesbrough and Dumfries.
Mrs Hyslop commented: “I would like to congratulate STV on being awarded the local TV licences for Edinburgh and Glasgow.
“However, these services – which focus on the two largest centres of population that are already well served by media - should not have been the priority for broadcasting in Scotland.
“The priority should be delivering for viewers in the south of Scotland - who are arguably most in need of local television as they currently receive local news on Channel 3 which is broadcast from Gateshead - and addressing the need for choice in public service broadcasting across Scotland, such as through a publicly-funded Scottish Digital Network.
“The television licence fee has been frozen and top sliced by the UK Government to pay for local television and the Welsh channel S4C, at the expense of audiences across Scotland.
“This damaging settlement has led to job cuts at BBC Scotland, with up to 120 posts going by 2017 – and these cuts are beginning to bite.
“I am committed to protecting public service broadcasting. Under independence, Scotland would have full responsibility for broadcasting, which provides opportunities to better meet the needs of audiences here while reflecting Scottish life, culture and interests.”