THERE was an “institutional issue” with the BBC in its coverage of the 2014 independence referendum, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Scotland’s First Minister said it “felt sometimes as if the BBC were on one side of the debate” on Scottish Independence. But she said she did not believe the broadcaster was biased and hoped things had “moved on” since then.

The SNP leader was taking part in the BBC 5 Live Breakfast radio programme when she answered a question sent in via Twitter asking how “biased” the BBC is.

Sturgeon replied saying: “I think there was an institutional issue with the BBC to some extent [during the 2014 Scottish independence referendum].” She said that she didn’t think the issue was “down to individuals or journalists”, but said “it felt sometimes as if the BBC were on one side of the debate”.

She added: “But that’s then, I hope things have moved on from that.”

Just days before the referendum, independence supporters staged a demonstration outside BBC Scotland’s Glasgow HQ in protest at the corporation’s coverage of events.

But Sturgeon said she believed that BBC journalists “by and large” do a good job.

She said: “Journalists should never be partial; I don’t think it should be a case of them trying to do any favours to the independence cause.

“I think it should be a case of quality, impartial journalism and I’ve got great respect for BBC journalists because I think by and large they do a good job.”

The First Minister said that the BBC in Scotland were not as bad but believed there was a general level of ignorance in some of the network correspondents.

She said: “I would exclude largely BBC Scotland from this but I remember doing interviews in the latter stages of the independence referendum when some of the network correspondents came up to cover it and it was almost as if they weren’t keeping up and you were having to go back to square one on issues that people in Scotland were very informed about.”

One of the reasons she gave for the difficulties in covering the Scottish independence referendum fairly was that the BBC was acting in self-preservation. Sturgeon said: “I think there was also, and as I say, I don’t think this was in the minds of individual journalists, but as an institution perhaps there was the sense that the BBC, given its place and role and status in the British media, felt that its own future was somehow caught up in the independence referendum.”

A 2014 openDemocracy report concluded that the broadcaster had damaged the Yes campaign.

Questioned on what would happen if independence supporters lost a referendum and how long it would take until a further vote could be held, she said: “I’m not planning to lose, and I don’t think we will.”

Sturgeon said the future of Scotland was “for people in Scotland to decide”.