ITV Border criticised for unbalanced coverage of Ashcroft poll

South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has lodged a complaint with ITV Border over the broadcaster’s unbalanced coverage of last week’s poll from Lord Ashcroft which suggested SNP candidates in Dumfries and Galloway and Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale are set to take the two constituency seats from their respective Labour and Tory incumbents.

Ms McAlpine complained after an interview she gave to the broadcaster representing the SNP received only 18 seconds of air time during an 8 minute long package.

The SNP MSP said:

“I was invited to contribute to a package on the Ashcroft poll last Thursday which lasts 8 minutes. Of that 8 minutes, the SNP – who have quite a large part to play in the Ashcroft story – got an 18 second slot in total.

“That was against 1 to 1 interviews with Jim Murphy, Kezia Dugdale, Willie Rennie and Jackson Carlaw defending their position in south of Scotland plus archive campaign footage of sitting MPs Russell Brown, Michael Moore and David Mundell. In their interviews Murphy, Rennie and Carlaw got an opportunity to prais the record of their local MPs by name. By contrast our SNP candidates were not named and no campaigning footage of the SNP was used.

“I gave a lengthy interview to Joe Pike, only 18 seconds of which was broadcast. Among the sections cut were those in which I named our candidates Richard Arkless and Emma Harper who Ashcroft says are poised to become MPs. Even if my interview had been used in full, the piece would still be unbalanced, given the extensive archive footage given to every party except the SNP and the naming and praising of sitting MPs. Compared to this 18 seconds out of 8 minutes is unacceptable.

“In addition the interviewer failed to inform me that the package covered Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk. I was told to comment on the poll, which of course did not cover that constituency. That meant my comments did not address BRS, and its excellent SNP candidate Calum Kerr.

“I hope this lack of balance is not going to characterise ITV Border's coverage of the General Election. In the meantime I am interested to hear how ITV Border justify editing the Ashcroft piece the way that they did.”


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