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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 February 2008, 18:44 GMT
Salmond hits out over TV football
Fans watching Scotland v Italy at Glasgow Green
Scotland's showdown with Italy was shown live on Sky Sports
Alex Salmond has criticised broadcasters such as BBC Scotland and STV for not showing Scotland's international football matches live.

In a hard-hitting speech, the first minister said Scotland's qualifying campaign for the 2010 World Cup would not be shown on terrestrial channels.

He told the Royal Television Society in Glasgow that England's home matches would be shown on the BBC in Scotland.

He said this was an "extraordinary and frankly unacceptable" position.

National events

Mr Salmond said: "Let me simply say that when it comes to getting the national team back onto the screens of all our citizens - it can be done and it should be done."

He did not specify what action he had in mind but aides said the comments were aimed at broadcasters and the Westminster Government.

"At UK level some national sporting events like Wimbledon and the Grand National are protected," said an aide.

"If the Scottish Government had legislative competence over broadcasting, we would be able to protect Scotland's qualifying games and allow millions of Scots football fans to watch the game."

Mr Salmond's call came when he delivered the Campbell Swinton memorial lecture.

Alex Salmond
Even in Scotland, the only games shown on terrestrial television will be England's home matches
Alex Salmond
First minister

Scotland's home games in the Euro 2008 qualifiers were only broadcast live on subscription channel Sky Sports after a deal was done with the SFA.

None of Scotland's World Cup qualifiers for the 2010 tournament, which begins in September, will be shown live on free-to-air terrestrial TV.

The home games will only be screened on Sky, with the away matches on Setanta.

Ewan Angus, head of sport at BBC Scotland, said: "BBC Scotland attempts to secure live rights for Scotland games where possible.

"During the European Championship campaign, for instance, we were successful in securing the rights for several of the away fixtures from individual football authorities.

"These included the matches in Italy, the Ukraine and Georgia.

"However it is an open market which is becoming ever more competitive and we have to be mindful, as a public service broadcaster with a finite amount of money to spend on sports rights, of using the licence fee to serve all of our audiences."

'Not surprised'

In his speech, Mr Salmond praised Scotland's "impressive" performance in the European qualifiers.

He said: "However, even in Scotland, the only games shown on terrestrial television will be England's home matches.

"It is an extraordinary, and frankly unacceptable position.

"And it reveals a carelessness in the attitudes of some broadcasters to their wider responsibilities."

Elsewhere in the lecture, Mr Salmond said his administration was "angered but not surprised" at figures last October which showed Scotland's share of total UK network production falling from 6% in 2004 to 3% in 2006.

This had prompted the decision to set up a Scottish Broadcasting Commission, whose interim report he welcomed.

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