BBC Scotland has been furiously condemned for its decision to stop broadcasting all of the First Minister’s coronavirus briefings after caving in to pressure from the Scottish Tories.

As of Monday, it is understood the corporation will decide whether to provide live television coverage of the press conferences based on their “editorial merit”.

It says it will continue streaming the briefings – which contain crucial information necessary for the public to play its role in containing the virus – live on its news website.

READ MORE: Thousands urge BBC to reverse decision to stop airing Nicola Sturgeon's briefings

The briefings are currently shown live on both BBC One Scotland and the BBC Scotland channel, with some coverage also included as part of BBC Radio Scotland’s Lunchtime Live programme.

But the corporation has taken the decision to scale this back – despite the fact that the BBC Scotland television channel tends to air few shows before 7pm other than the briefings and First Minister’s Questions, opting instead to broadcast adverts for its programmes.

After the decision sparked a furious backlash we put several questions to the broadcaster:

1. Who made this decision?

2. Was the new Tory director general involved in making this decision?

3. Why has it been made now, when coronavirus cases are on the increase?

4. What evidence was the decision based on and were medical experts consulted?

5. What impact could this have on suppressing the virus?

A BBC Scotland spokesperson told The National: "We will continue to provide extensive coverage of the government press conferences across our news services, including live streaming online.

“We will of course consider showing press conferences live when any major developments or updates are anticipated.”

The corporation also insisted that all editorial decisions are made locally.

However, broadcaster and former television executive Stuart Cosgrove said the decision does not make any sense.

The former Channel 4 chief, who co-hosts BBC Scotland Radio show Off The Ball, told The National: “At a time when Scotland is witnessing a new rise in Covid cases and the restrictions are more complex to communicate I’m baffled as to why these publicly valuable briefings are to discontinue.”

Professor James Mitchell, a public policy expert at Edinburgh University, added: “This is a strange time to abandon public broadcasts on Covid. At such a critical point when the public needs to be kept fully and speedily informed of any changes is simply not the time to do this.”

The National: Nicola Sturgeon giving an update at the briefing Nicola Sturgeon giving an update at the briefing

The BBC insists it will take a “consistent approach to coverage of the various government briefings across the UK nations”.

It comes after Scottish Labour and Tory MSPs had complained that the corporation was “indulging” Sturgeon by broadcasting the so-called “party political broadcasts”.

The accusations were branded “pathetic” by the Scottish Government.

Reacting to yesterday’s bombshell announcement, the SNP’s Alex Kerr asked: “How can BBC Scotland News possibly justify dropping the daily Scottish Government briefings just as we are seeing positive cases of coronavirus begin to rise?

“Now more than ever it is so important that we are getting clear government guidance out to the public to stop the spread of Covid.”

Outraged viewers took to social media to vent their frustrations.

Hazel McDonald tweeted: “Whit? Just as the infection rates are rising again @BBCScotlandNews this is a disgrace! Stopping a vital daily briefing during a pandemic will damage the public health message which is so badly needed.”

Simon Barrow added: “This is an appalling decision, @BBCScotlandNews. Pubic service broadcasting should priorities public information during a pandemic, rather than appeasing those who are trying to politicise this.”

Dorothy Bruce commented: “Appalling that a public health matter should be treated like this. Shows just how low Tories and the BBC will sink.” 

The Scottish Government said the press conferences will continue as normal.

A spokesperson stated: “We will continue to carry out briefings to communicate key public health messages.

“These are carried in full on Scottish Government channels, and will continue to be available to all broadcasters.”