WE now have a better understanding of the thought process behind the BBC’s decision to cut back their coverage of the First Minister’s coronavirus briefings.

And now we know the reasons for the move, we can see just how shoddy it is.

A leaked briefing note, which was sent from the BBC to politicians, said: “… From the 14th, the BBC is applying a consistent approach to coverage of the various government briefings across the UK nations, with our colleague at BBC Wales also making a change at this point.

“Instead of broadcasting every briefing live on BBC One Scotland and the BBC Scotland Channel, we will decide whether to broadcast them on editorial merit.”

A “consistent approach”, which has the end result of making it harder for people to access information, shouldn’t be something that the BBC even considers pursing.

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It boils down to this: Scots are being penalised because the UK Prime Minister is too lazy and cowardly to front his own daily briefing. If Boris Johnson could be bothered to update people in England about the ever-changing rules and restrictions, I wouldn’t be writing this column. He would be doing his update, Nicola Sturgeon would be doing hers, and the idea that broadcasters would move either one to online-only would be unthinkable.

Does anybody believe that, if the roles were reversed, the BBC would be arguing for a “consistent approach”? Of course not. Boris Johnson would scrap the licence fee before he would accept any briefing he gave being moved online because Nicola Sturgeon was refusing to hold one of her own.

The reason that BBC bigwigs deem it acceptable in Scotland is in no small part because of the inane ramblings of opposition politicians who think that they’ll win more votes if people in Scotland see less of the First Minister.

The likes of George Foulkes and Jackie Baillie have argued that the televised daily briefings have become politicised and should be scrapped.

They may have successfully persuaded the BBC of the merits of their argument, but in doing so they have showed complete contempt for the Scottish public. Such a brazen display of political self-interest is unlikely to win any new votes for their failing party.

The BBC’s decision is so irresponsible – so utterly illogical – that I don’t see how it can stand. There is nothing to gain – for either the BBC or their viewers – by not showing all of the daily briefings live. Most people don’t have Twitter. Some don’t have the internet.

A five-minute package on the 6pm news is a poor substitute for watching the full briefing and the question and answer session that follows. Knowing what the rules are is good; understanding why they are in place is much better.

As the regulations become more complicated, it is more important than ever that the justification for restrictions is fully explained. I watch the daily briefings most days. If I miss one,

I catch up online. Just because that is an option for some doesn’t mean it is an option for all. There are those who will change how they access coronavirus information, but others will miss out.

I don’t know what the viewing figures are for the First Minister’s daily briefings. Whatever the number is, it doesn’t matter. What should concern us is the number of people who previously kept up to date with the guidance who now will not.

The people that tune in now are doing so because they want information. It’s not an entertaining watch. People aren’t watching because there’s nothing else on the telly and Jason Leitch tells decent jokes.

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One of the aims of the BBC is to inform. That remit shouldn’t be disregarded just because Boris Johnson isn’t living up to his responsibilities as a leader.

It’s important to note that this decision will have been taken from on high. The BBC is full of excellent journalists who take their responsibilities seriously and have worked hard during the pandemic to help the public understand this crisis.

Those faces of the BBC that we all know, those that are accessible on Twitter (and are regularly targets of abuse) are not to blame here. They don’t get a say in BBC scheduling. Many of them will be as unhappy about this as the rest of us are.

That idea that politics be put to one side during the pandemic was always a noble goal which was doomed to fail. Those Labour and Tory politicians that sought to make it harder for Scots to access information during a global health emergency, simply because they are scared of Nicola Sturgeon’s approval ratings, are proof of that.

And unless they reverse this decision, the BBC bosses who capitulated to their demands risk appearing like they too have decided that politics is more important than public health.