Terrestrial TV ramps up Referendum coverage

Posted on 23/06/2014 by

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While the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigns continue to slug it out as the Referendum countdown continues, the broadcasters are having a private battle of their own. Both BBC and STV have just announced plans which they hope will grab some headlines for themselves.

STV announced yesterday that Alex Salmond has agreed to take part in an STV television debate on the independence referendum with Alistair Darling.

Mr Salmond has been calling for a ‘First Minister to Prime Minister’ debate over independence, but as David Cameron continues to insist the referendum is an issue for the Scots, the First Minister has now agreed to appear in a debate with Alistair Darling, who leads the Better Together campaign.

STV News had invited both campaigns to participate in a live two-hour debate in front of an audience of 500 voters from both sides as well as undecideds. The landmark live debate will be chaired by STV’s political editor Bernard Ponsonby on a date to be confirmed.

Speaking about the debate, Better Together campaign director Blair McDougall said: “Alex Salmond’s TV debates bluff has finally been called. This is a welcome, if long overdue, climb-down by the First Minister.

“The nationalists wanted to make this a Scotland versus England contest. The vast majority of Scots know that’s not what this is about.

“There are two competing Scottish visions for our country. We offer the best of both worlds, with more powers for Scotland backed up by the strength, security and stability of the larger UK. The nationalists only offer a leap in the dark with separation.

“People in Scotland deserve a TV debate between the leaders of both campaigns about the big issues in this referendum, like what would happen to our Pound, pensions and public services.”

Blair Jenkins, Yes Scotland’s chief executive, said: “Polls show that the people of Scotland want a debate between the First Minister and the Prime Minister.

“If David Cameron is content to dictate to us, then he should be brave enough to debate with us. Team Yes has an abundance of talent ready and waiting to put forward the positive Yes case; meanwhile, the No side are desperately trying to pass the bat as far down the pecking order as possible.”

While STV will undoubtedly be delighted to have landed ‘the big one’ and will host the eagerly-anticipated leaders’ debate, ultimately it’s you, the punter, who will decide Scotland’s future – and increasingly it seems that young first-time voters may swing the result one way or the other. BBC Scotland announced today it will host the biggest debate the country has ever seen in the week before the independence referendum – and every secondary school in Scotland will be invited to take part.

Up to 12,000 first time voters from across Scotland will fill Glasgow’s SSE Hydro for a BBC One televised debate on independence. The 11 September debate will give 16 and 17-year-olds the opportunity to air their views and question politicians.

The BBC will contact both campaigns to discuss the appropriate representative from each side to appear on the show, and the programme will be broadcast across the UK on BBC One a week before Scotland makes it’s choice.

John Boothman, BBC Scotland’s Head of News and Current Affairs, said: “This will be the biggest political debate that has ever been televised in Scotland. We are proud to bring the nation’s young people together to hear the arguments that will determine the future of the country.”

Then again, of course, there are always repeats of ‘Only Fools and Horses’ …

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