Page last updated at 18:03 GMT, Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Ofcom launches inquiry into STV sponsorship deal

Ofcom logo
STV said it is confident it has complied with broadcasting codes and guidelines

Broadcasting watchdog Ofcom has launched an inquiry into a sponsorship deal between STV and the Scottish government over Homecoming events.

These included programmes such as "The Greatest Scot", which were made as part of the celebrations last year.

Opposition MSPs have accused ministers of using taxpayers' money to undermine the impartiality of the broadcaster.

The Scottish government has insisted it had no influence on the editorial content of the programmes.

The content of STV's scehdule and the material broadcast are obviously matters for STV itself
Spokesman for Alex Salmond
First Minister

A spokesman for First Minister Alex Salmond said: "This is total and absolute nonsense.

"This is no different to the sponsorship arrangements we have with television and newspapers across Scotland to promote good health and education messages.

"The content of STV's schedule and the material broadcast are obviously matters for STV itself."

Welcome investigation

But Scottish Conservative deputy leader Murdo Fraser said: "The serious nature of these allegations has been underlined by the fact that Ofcom has launched an investigation.

"It would be unacceptable if the SNP government has been trying to use taxpayers' money to undermine the impartiality of STV."

Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray said the first minister must answer serious questions.

He added: "There are strict rules about government involvement in the media and Alex Salmond should not cross that line."

Scottish Liberal Democrats culture spokesperson Iain Smith MSP urged STV and the Scottish government to fully co-operate with the Ofcom investigation.

He said: "The broadcasting code is very clear that government sponsorship shouldn't dictate programme content.

"The SNP needs to remember that it should not be using taxpayers' money to promote party politics."

A spokesman for STV said: ""Ofcom is currently investigating some of our programming and we welcome this investigation.

"STV has a robust internal compliance process and we are confident that we have complied with all relevant broadcasting codes and guidelines."

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