Scotland politics

Scottish independence: Cinemas pull referendum adverts

Vue cinema
Image caption The cinema chain Vue said they would stop showing referendum adverts after 5 July following "customer feedback"

Cinemas in Scotland are to stop showing adverts from both sides of the referendum campaign following complaints from customers.

Both the "Yes" and "No" campaigns have been running high-profile adverts in cinemas over the past month.

Vue cinemas said it had decided to drop the ads from 5 June onwards following "customer feedback".

Other major cinema chains, including Odeon and Cineworld, will follow suit.

The independent Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT) has already stopped running referendum adverts, after film fans told cinema managers they wanted to "retreat from the real world".

The decision has sparked a row between the two sides of the independence debate, with the pro-Union Better Together group accusing "Yes" supporters of "closing down debate".

The pro-independence Yes Scotland campaign said there had been "many complaints" about the "No" adverts.

The referendum takes place on 18 September, with voters answering the yes/no question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

'Feedback'

A spokeswoman for Vue, which runs seven cinema complexes across Scotland, said the company was politically impartial, and had received complaints from customers about referendum advertising campaigns.

She added: "We will continue to show these adverts up until the end of the planned campaign on 5 June.

"Following feedback from our customers, which has been duly noted, we have taken the decision not to show any further campaign adverts."

A spokeswoman for GFT said all referendum adverts had already been removed from screens.

She added: "We did receive complaints about the ads when they screened initially - but in the main these were from people who wanted to retreat from the real world when they come to GFT, and relax with a good film.

"GFT is indy-neutral, and we're proud of our record in customer service. As a locally run cinema we are able to respond quickly to feedback from our customers. We requested that the adverts were removed from the advertising packages with immediate effect."

Cineworld, which has eight cinemas in Scotland - including the country's biggest, in Renfrew Street, Glasgow - said it would stop showing referendum ads from 29 May, when the official, more formal campaign begins.

The Odeon/UCI chain also has eight cinemas across the country and told the BBC it had given both sides' adverts "equal weighting", but confirmed it would stop running them after 5 June.

A spokesperson for Yes Scotland said: "We understand there have been many complaints about the No campaign adverts.

"We are in touch with cinema chains about possible future screenings of 'Yes' ads, and will of course abide by their decision."

A spokesman for the pro-Union Better Together campaign said: "The fact that so many nationalists complained about our positive cinema advert shows that they will do anything to close down debate in Scotland.

"The idea that people in Scotland won't see any more cinema adverts in this referendum campaign because nationalists can't tolerate open and honest debate about the future of our country is depressing in the extreme."

He added that the group had no further plans to use cinema advertising.

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