DUMBARTON'S MSP has denied lobbying BBC Scotland to axe televised coverage of the Scottish Government’s daily coronavirus updates.

Jackie Baillie said she had met BBC representatives after becoming concerned the daily updates had become a platform to discuss Scottish Government decisions over unrelated issues.

The broadcaster announced on Thursday that it will no longer be providing live TV coverage of the press conference chaired by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon every day, though it will continue to be streamed online.

The Reporter contacted Ms Baillie, Scottish Labour's deputy leader, after she retweeted Labour peer George Foulkes, who posted: “BBC Scotland stopping daily live coverage of Nicola Sturgeon's coronavirus briefings.

“Good to see @BBCScotland have taken account of representations from @jackiebmsp and me!”

Ms Baillie said: “The BBC need to ensure political balance in their coverage, and I welcome their recent move to covering statements by the First Minister and other government ministers in the parliament.

"This allows for that balance as well as maintaining the important flow of information to the public.

“I recently met with the BBC to ask about the criteria surrounding the daily briefings, especially as much of the recent coverage was moving away from public health messages.”

Ms Baillie's political opponents criticised her and the BBC, with SNP member Toni Giugliano, who is hoping to be chosen as the party's candidate for the Dumbarton constituency at next May's Scottish Parliament elections, asking her to explain to constituents "why they should be deprived of vital public health info during a pandemic".

Ms Baillie continued: “I have not campaigned for an end to the BBC’s coverage of the First Minister's briefing, as some have suggested, or for public health messages to be stopped.

“Ultimately the BBC will use their editorial judgement to decide what they cover and that is rightly a matter for them.”

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “It’s an important channel, because we need to ensure public compliance with the measures that were taken, so we need to get these messages out.

“It’s been a crucial part of the communication, and I would like to see it continue to be broadcast on BBC Scotland channels because of the importance of getting that message directly to members of the public.”

A spokesperson for BBC Scotland said: "We will continue to provide extensive coverage of the government press conferences across our news services, including streaming online.

"We will of course consider showing press conferences live when any major developments or updates are anticipated."

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