Bone of contention: Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling TV debate

 

Like many Sassenachs, I tried to access the STV Player’s live stream of last Tuesday’s Scottish referendum debate only to be greeted by a broken link and the message: “This operation cannot be completed”.

Some 1.2 million people tuned in to watch the debate on television, with another 500,000 watching (or trying to watch) online, an indication that this was an event of interest to the whole of the UK.

STV operates the ITV licences in Scotland and an agreement should have been reached for ITV to bump a repeat of Midsomer Murders and screen the two-hour debate live on ITV3 or ITV4.

ITV said it screened the debate “in the area where our viewers have a vote in the question under discussion”.

I understand that Ofcom has received a number of complaints from viewers outside Scotland who were unable to watch the debate and is considering a full investigation.

While broadcasters are obliged to carry party-election broadcasts and referendum-campaign broadcasts, there is no statutory obligation for public sector broadcasters to screen any referendum debates.

Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code must surely be updated to include such an obligation for debates of nationwide importance.

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