THE Alba Party are urging Ofcom to arrange a special meeting after STV moved their party-political broadcast so that it wouldn’t be shown before Scotland’s opening match in the Euros.

Earlier this week STV informed Alba that they would be moving the time of their broadcast over concerns that it would give the party an “unfair advantage” due to high levels of viewership ahead of the Scotland’s match against Germany on June 14. 

Alba added that the proposed new date for the broadcast – Thursday, June 20 – would occur after postal votes had been sent out, meaning that some people will already have cast their votes.

In a letter to Ofcom, Alba leader Alex Salmond called on the watchdog’s Election Committee to intervene. 

“We ask you to convene the Election Committee, as a matter of urgency, to consider a specific matter of dispute between the Alba Party and STV,” he wrote.

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“The Alba Party’s sole election broadcast has been scheduled by the BBC for broadcast on Friday 14th June.

“However, instead of sticking to the normal formulation of broadcast on the same day, STV and Border have decided to delay broadcast until Thursday June 20, claiming that to proceed with the broadcast on the appointed day would present an ‘unfair advantage’ to Alba.

“We strongly disagree with this STV assessment which we consider clearly prejudicial to Alba for the following reasons; “1. Although there is no specific instruction to broadcast a PEB on the same day as the BBC, this has been done by all custom and repute. Indeed we have been unable to find a single previous example of this not happening.

“2. Since the dawn of election broadcast entitlement, broadcasts have been shown on the same day and normally at a similar time.

“3. The assumption is that this formulation was considered fair since a low audience on one terrestrial channel for whatever reason would be balanced by a high audience on the other.

“4. By departing from this principle, STV decisions mean that Alba will get a low audience on BBC with no compensation of a relatively high audience on STV.

“5. Although there is no specific rule to follow normal practice, the departure from it by STV (on the admitted aim in their letter of 8 June restricting the audience for Alba) is clearly prejudicial to the Alba Party. Thus it is in breach of paragraph 1.7 in Ofcom guidance notes to Section 6 of the Code which provides “In their coverage of elections, broadcasters - in fulfilling their obligations to preserve due impartiality - should take a consistent approach to the assessment of the level of coverage given to all the candidates.”

“6. As a result of this clear inconsistency the sole Alba broadcast (in contrast to the multiple broadcasts of other parties) will be shown on STV/Border after the first issue of postal votes. This is a crucial point given the rise in postal voters, particularly prevalent in Scotland due to the earlier holiday commencement period.

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“For the above reasons we would ask the Election Committee to convene and instruct STV to revert to normal practice and show the relevant Alba election broadcast in the early evening of Friday 14th June before the football starts, accepting that their relatively high audience will be balanced by the relatively low audience on the BBC.”

Commenting on the letter, Salmond added that the party "will not be silenced or intimidated by a Broadcaster whose main preoccupation seems to be sucking up to the political establishment". 

An STV spokesperson said: “We’re comfortable that our election coverage across the board – including news, current affairs and Party Election Broadcasts – complies with the Ofcom Broadcast Code and its guidance around due impartiality.”