ITV Border is to broadcast a series of programmes examining the history and development of the independence question in Scotland. This being part of a new commitment from ITV to southern Scottish viewers, ahead of the referendum in September 2014.
There has been criticism that South of Scotland viewers have not been catered for years on BBC Reporting Scotland or Border’s Lookaround, which was heightened after the Border merger with Tyne Tees in 2009, creating only a 15 minute ‘sub-opt’ bulletin at 6pm for Borders, Dumfries and Galloway along with Cumbria too. The last 15 minutes of the main news programme covers the Tyne Tees region too, so you can get news from Galashiels to Gateshead, or from Jedburgh to Ripon.
ITV came under fire last week after STV aired a Scottish Independence live debate featuring Deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon and MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk – Michael Moore. Michael Moore’s constituents however on TV couldn’t watch the broadcast.
Before the Tyne Tees merger, Border did have a ‘Scottish opt’ for some programming from STV, however this had been dissolved since 2009, therefore only a couple of programmes have featured (on the wider) Border region, which include parliament debates and STV’s 2011 election night programme.
There has been proposals on the table from different quarters about Border Scotland and whether it should be handed to STV. However ITV are firmly planning to reinstate a 30 Minute Border-only Lookaround and show more political programming, with potential for some from STV. At the moment Border are also applying for a Political correspondent based in Edinburgh.
This new programme from ITV for is called Road to Referendum, presented by Iain Macwhirter. It will chronicle the social, cultural and political changes in Scotland and the evolution of the independence debate.
There will also be a two part documentary series later this summer, called A Scottish Journey. It will look at the arguments in favour and against Scotland being an independent country.
The documentaries are part of the ‘extensive programming ITV Border plans to run ahead of the vote in September 2014’ according to ITV, in addition to regular coverage the Lookaround programme.