Joan McAlpine MSP has welcomed the announcement from Ofcom on the future of channel 3 TV in Southern Scotland as a step in the right direction.
The SNP MSP said that the regulator’s decision to instruct ITV to provide relevant Scottish and regional programmes, including news, was a victory for her campaign to improve the TV offering for constituents in The Borders and Dumfries and Galloway.
Ms McAlpine (pictured above) led a debate in The Scottish Parliament in January which highlighted the lack of choice for viewers who currently get all their Channel 3 regional news from Gateshead in the North of England and have no access to STV.
The MSP's campaign forced ITV to offer an improved service by promising to provide a nightly news service for the region, formerly served by the old Border TV before its merger with Tyne Tees.
The key points for Scotland according to Ofcom are:
*The return of a dedicated Border news service, with 30 minutes of weekday early evening news relevant to the region
*This will include a requirement for ITV to provide a further weekly 90 minutes of regional programming to be scheduled for viewing in the Scottish part of the Border region. This 90 minutes of programming may be shared with the other Channel 3 licensees in Scotland
*There will also be a requirement for ITV to provide separate transmissions for the two parts of the Border region, so that viewers in England can continue to see network programming
*The current requirements for regional programming in central and northern Scotland will be maintained.
However the South of Scotland MSP said that more national news about Scotland as well as the locality should also be offered and this is exactly what Ofcom have announced today.
Ms McAlpine said: "This is a victory for the campaign to improve South of Scotland TV and it pushes ITV much further than they were originally prepared to go. I have been astounded at the response to the campaign with constituents calling to thank me for securing the debate and highlighting the issue.
"This announcement shows that Ofcom agree that viewers in Dumfries and Galloway and The Borders deserve both Scottish and local coverage. While my preference is for an all Scotland license, this is a step in the right direction. I would urge ITV to now enter constructive commercial talks with STV to share content such as Scotland Tonight, which is not currently shown in the South of Scotland
"People in the South of Scotland deserve to be informed about their own area and also what is happening across Scotland. Their health, education, police and justice services are all delivered by the Scottish Parliament and it is damaging to democracy that they don't get the same coverage of these matters as viewers in the rest of Scotland. In the run up to the referendum on Scotland’s future it is important that they get as much information as every other voter to help make an informed choice."