THE long-running issue of television news coverage in the Borders has again raised its head, with Christine Grahame, MSP, accusing UK Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt of “not getting the picture” after the region missed out on the chance to host its own local TV service.
There has long been an argument for us to have our own service following the regrading of ITV Border, with our local news service now coming out of Tyne Tees and offering little coverage of the Scottish Borders.
How many times do we switch on the ITV’s Lookaround only to hear news from Cumbria rather than Kelso or Galashiels?
Ms Grahame is right when she said that people in the Borders want to see TV, and in particular TV news, that represents them and reflects their community.
A survey by Ms Grahame in 2008 – a year before ITV Border left its base at Carlisle to move to Gateshead and merge with ITV Tyne Tees – revealed 70 per cent of respondents felt the Borders was not well served by TV broadcasting. She has now tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament on the issue.
If, as Mr Hunt, assures us, he wants viewers to watch TV that is “truly relevant to them”, then the Scottish Borders is in need of local television, and particularly a relevant news service. But before that can happen, more investment needs to take place to ensure we have the infrastructure to deliver those services, namely adequate transmitters.
The Borders has been sidelined long enough, with too many false starts and broken promises. We’re sick of being paid lip service, it’s about time Mr Hunt put his money where his mouth is.