BBC Scotland has rejected criticism of its decision to broadcast a snooker competition rather than the First Minister’s major statement on independence.

As Nicola Sturgeon fired the starting gun on indyref2 in a speech to MSPs, viewers of BBC Scotland were instead presented with the snooker world championships, also being broadcast on BBC2.

Users on social media asked why the proceedings were not being made available to them on the broadcaster’s Scottish channel.

The BBC did air parts of the speech later on BBC Scotland, but significantly cut down and without any clips from the debate.

Explaining the decision, a BBC spokesperson said: “Audiences were able to follow the story on a range of news outlets. The statement and debate were covered live on the BBC Scotland news website.

“Reporting Scotland also reported the statement on its 1.30pm edition and there was extensive coverage on Politics Scotland and on our news programmes on radio, too.

“The statement coincided with the funeral of Lyra McKee which the BBC News Channel broadcast live from Belfast. Immediately following the funeral, the News Channel then moved to Edinburgh to update viewers on the First Minister’s statement.”

Sturgeon’s speech began at 1.30pm yesterday. Politics Scotland interrupted coverage of the snooker to air at 2.30pm.

The show aired five minutes and 20 seconds of the First Minister’s statement to parliament – which had lasted 16 minutes and 30 seconds. None of the hour-long debate was shown.

The discussion with MSPs featured Tom Arthur of the SNP, Peter Champman of the Conservatives, Mark Griffin of Labour and John Finnie of the Scottish Greens.

Before launching the new BBC Scotland channel earlier this year, BBC director-general Tony Hall said it would be “bold, creative and ambitious”.