MSP fuming over ‘restricted coverage’ of televised debate

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The decision by Border Television to restrict Tuesday’s independence referendum debate between Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling to Freeview was likely to have disenfranchised thousands of voters in the south of Scotland, according to SNP MSP Christine Grahame.

The member for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale expressed her anger after learning that many of her constituents, and the electorate in Scottish parliamentary seats across the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway, would not be able to watch the exchanges between the First Minister and the former Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Speaking prior to the debate, she said: “We’ve had all the negative campaigning by the No campaign and by the Westminster Select Committee covered by Border TV, yet we are to get restricted coverage of this week’s debate which will be one of the most important events in the run-up to September 18.

“Apparently, while the rest of Scotland will hear arguments from both sides of the divide on Tuesday evening many viewers in southern Scotland will be treated to the delights of Love Your Garden from 8-9pm, followed by a programme called Kids Behind Bars between 9-10 o’clock about youth custody in Nevada.”

Ms Grahame said there was a widespread feeling that democracy in the south of Scotland was about to suffer apparently because the region was served by an English-based TV station.

She added: “One Borders resident who emailed me wrote, ‘I expect this will not be the only contact you receive expressing dismay, anger and bafflement ... choose any words that fit a sense of impotence that I live in the Scottish Borders and am served by an English-dominated ITV station’.”