An announcement from Ruth Davidson that she was pregnant was more newsworthy than Westminster’s bid to seize control of devolved powers, according to the Editor of Reporting Scotland.
The BBC Scotland official was responding to a complaint after the flagship tea-time news programme failed to cover heated exchanges at Holyrood over the so-called ‘Power Grab’.
The exchanges during First Minister’s Questions were widely believed to have favoured First Minister Nicola Sturgeon over her Scottish Conservative opponent.
According to the complaint, although the announcement from Ruth Davidson that she was pregnant was newsworthy, 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 and could result in 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.
By dropping the item from its evening edition despite having covered it earlier that day, argued the complainant, 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 near four-and-a-half minute puff-piece item containing clips of Ruth Davidson making a rugby tackle, sitting on a buffalo and riding a tank.
However the Editor of Reporting Scotland has argued that the ‘Power Grab’ exchanges in the Scottish Parliament had been overtaken by events and had been dropped accordingly.
She said: “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.”
The response from the BBC Scotland official was not enough to satisfy the complainant who questioned why the Power Grab had to be dropped completely from the programme.
In a statement to Indyref2, the complainant said: “The Reporting Scotland Edior has completely failed to explain why the Power Grab exchanges were dropped altogether.
“Even if she considered Ruth Davidson’s pregnancy to be a bigger national story than Westminster seizing powers from Holyrood, she doesn’t explain why the Power Grab story was not included later.
“There were seven additional stories not including Ruth’s pregnancy. I’ve listed them below in the order they appeared.
- A letter written by Health and Safety to Oil and gas operators over the number of gas leaks.
- Two pilots accused of trying to fly while drunk were cleared.
- Fire officer apologised for crew shortages in Aberdeen.
- Warning over paediatricians burning out.
- Scotland’s relationship with Malawi.
- A 93 year old actress dying.
- Comments by Roy Hodgson about Stephen Gerrard becoming Rangers manager.
“Is the Reporting Scotland Editor really saying all of these were of greater national significance than Westminster’s Power Grab?
“The truth is that Ruth Davidson’s pregnancy was afforded time and resource way beyond its significance.
“Meanwhile an issue of national importance was simply dropped from the programme.”
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