A BBC boss has been branded “irresponsible” by the SNP after he claimed the First Minister’s coronavirus briefings don’t always contain “crucial” information.

Ian Small, the head of public policy and corporate affairs at BBC Scotland, made the comment as he attempted to defend the decision to ditch the regular live broadcast.

He was being interviewed on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme about the corporation’s annual report which showed growing dissatisfaction with the broadcaster amongst Scots.

According to polling commissioned by the corporation, 64% of viewers in Scotland thought the BBC was “effective at informing, educating and entertaining people in the UK” down from 70% last year.

While 61% of adults in Scotland think the BBC is “effective at providing content/services that set a high standard for quality,” down from 69% last year.

Just 51% of Scots think the BBC is “effective at reflecting people like them”.

Asked why trust was falling, Small said: “I think if you look across the the annual report you’ll see there have been falls in that particular statistic across all of the four nations.

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“I think what it points to is increasing diversity of choice. I think we can start to see in that the influence of Netflix and Amazon and Disney in that marketplace. And of course other diversions as well YouTube, gaming. All of that is starting to play into that particular metric.”

Show host Martin Geissler pointed out that it wasn’t the emergence of Netflix that had impacted on trust, rather it was “decisions like the one last week to remove the First Minister’s coronavirus briefings”.

“Let’s be absolutely clear on that, that we are not removing the coronavirus briefings, simply not true,” Small said.

“If you’ve been watching this week, they are on all of this week, what we have said is that we’ve taken a decision that we will look across all of our output, we’ll look at these briefings, and we will then start to consider, which, as we move forward, which we will take relative to news value because not everyone will carry crucial bits of information.”

He said the BBC was “not taking them off air but we are taking a more measured look, see exactly how best to cover going forward”.

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That comment infuriated the SNP.

A spokesperson for the party told The National: “There absolutely is crucial bits of information in every one of the First Minister’s briefings. For anyone in the BBC to go on the radio and suggest otherwise is deeply irresponsible.”

Small’s comments also prompted questions over how the BBC would judge if a briefing had news value.

The Scottish Government don’t always share with journalists what’s going to be raised in the briefing. Media organisations are generally only told which ministers and officials are taking part.

Asked about this, a BBC spokesperson said: "We make editorial judgements all the time on how to cover on-going stories of significance. To reiterate, we did not say we were discontinuing live coverage of the First Minister’s briefings, but would make decisions on an editorial basis.”