SNP MSP leads a South of Scotland TV debate

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SNP MSP Joan McAlpine told MSPs there must be plurality of Scottish news in the Borders: "for the sake of democracy as well as choice" during a member's debate on South of Scotland television on 30 January 2013.

The South of Scotland MSP felt "many great things are happening in the Borders and they are not reflected on ITV in the region" but that more pressingly "it is simply ridiculous that at the time of the referendum that we cannot see Scotland Tonight".

Ms McAlpine referred to Ofcom findings where 86% of UK viewers want plurality of offers for news and current affairs.

A point backed up by research for the Scottish Broadcasting Commission in 2011 found 75% of viewers want a choice of provider for news.

Ms McAlpine suggested ITV could negotiate with STV to take local news programming like Scotland Tonight.

In her motion, Ms McAlpine welcomed UK Culture Secretary Maria Miller's acknowledgement of the deficiencies in ITV's local and Scottish news coverage in the Border Television region in her letter to Ofcom of 16 November 2012.

She also welcomed Ms Miller's request that Ofcom work with ITV plc to find a solution, and would welcome real choice for viewers across the south of Scotland.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said the prospective relicensing of Channel 3 affected Scotland as a whole and people had a democratic right to see news and current affairs so the future of STV "matters to us all".

Ms Hyslop said it was "essential" to see progress on the issue under the existing licenses.

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