Below is a complaint submitted to the BBC on Thursday April 28th. The complaint relates to coverage on Reporting Scotland of the news that Ruth Davidson was pregnant and the lack of coverage of the Power Grab issue that featured during FMQ’s earlier that day.
Complaint in full
On Thursday April 26th First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood saw Ruth Davidson challenge the First Minister on the subject of devolved powers returning from Brussels and the refusal of the Scottish Govt to agree to temporary retainment of some of the powers by Westminster.
The decision to lead on the so-called Power Grab row by Ruth Davidson indicated the seriousness with which the Scottish Conservative leader views the issue which threatens to spark a major constitutional confrontation between the Scottish Govt and the UK Govt.
However the highly significant exchange was not deemed worthy of coverage on that evening’s edition of Reporting Scotland. Instead the lead story was an item covering an announcement from Ruth Davidson that she was pregnant. The item lasted just under four and a half minutes.
The announcement from Ruth Davidson that she was pregnant was newsworthy. She is a high-profile politician in a same-sex relationship who leads the second largest party at Holyrood. However it was nowhere near the level of importance of the Power Grab row.
The Power Grab issue could see the UK Govt take the Scottish Govt to court. It could see the Scotland Act being unilaterally re-written by the UK Govt. It is potentially the biggest constitutional crisis the UK has seen since the 2014 Indyref.
The lunchtime edition of Reporting Scotland gave the exchanges at FMQ’s their deserved place, they led the programme.
By dropping the item from its evening edition, Reporting Scotland failed in its duty to inform TV licence holders on an issue of national significance and one they deserved to learn more about.
They were instead presented with a puff-piece item containing clips of Ruth Davidson making a rugby tackle, sitting on a buffalo and riding a tank. The item’s near four and a half minute duration was nearly half a minute longer than the recent saving of the BiFab plant merited.
Reporting Scotland needs to explain why the FMQ’s exchanges were dropped in favour of a pregnancy announcement from Ruth Davidson.
Response from the Editor of Reporting Scotland received May 7th
Each bulletin that we produce assesses each story on its merits. Inclusion of a story in one edition does not automatically guarantee it a place in a subsequent edition. As the news agenda develops through its natural cycle some stories come in and others go out.
That is what happened on this particular day: coverage of exchanges in the Scottish Parliament at First Minister’s Questions was overtaken by events which included the subsequent news that afternoon that the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, who is in a same-sex relationship, was going to have a baby. The production teams on the two bulletins to which you refer – at lunchtime and at teatime – reached decisions with which I am in complete agreement.