The Scottish government’s culture secretary Fiona Hyslop has written to Ofcom expressing her regret over the planned loss of STV News Tonight “and the potential impact of the broadcaster’s restructure on local news broadcasting.”
In her letter to Ofcom Scotland Director Glenn Preston, Hyslop raises concerns that the plans will “diminish the range of voices and perspective available to audiences” and that the quality of Scottish news coverage could be affected.
Hyslop wrote: “I wish to note regret at the loss, in STV News Tonight, of a distinctive aspect of news provision in Scotland – one which diminishes the range of voices and perspectives available to audiences.
“We are also concerned about the potential effect of these developments on the quality of coverage of Scottish news received by audiences in Scotland.
“The Scottish Government supports Ofcom’s view that plurality matters and an important aspect of achieving this is ensuring a diversity of viewpoints are available and consumed across and within the media.
“In view of the range of current and anticipated developments, there may be a case for reviewing the plurality and quality of news provision in Scotland at an appropriate point in the near future to ensure that audiences in Scotland have access to a continuing diversity of viewpoints and high-quality programmes.”
Referring to the news that STV2 is to close, and the local TV licences on which it is based are to be transferred to That’s Media Group Ltd, Hyslop added: “I would welcome confirmation as to whether the prior consent of Ofcom was obtained in advance of the announcement of the planned transfer of the STV2 licences, which I understand is expected to take effect from 29 June.
“Secondly, I assume that the commercial terms agreed with That’s Media Group Ltd oblige them to fulfil the commitments in all five local digital television programme service licences in full, including those for local news (and the higher level of local news commitments for Glasgow and Edinburgh), and we would welcome confirmation from Ofcom that the proposed new holder is aware of these terms and that they are an appropriate licensee.”