By a Newsnet reporter
A rally to be held next month in Glasgow will call for an open, informative and balanced referendum debate from Scotland’s broadcasters.
Scheduled to take place at 4pm on Saturday February 23rd, the non-partisan public event will demand that both the BBC and STV use 2013 in order to better educate Scots as the nation gears itself up for the historic ballot to take place in late 2014.
An organiser told Newsnet Scotland that the rally, which will go under the banner 'Illuminate The Debate' is intended to kick-start a proper independence debate.
The spokesperson said: “What we would say to the BBC and STV is ‘seize the moment’. Use this occasion to showpiece your talents, and those of your highly skilled staff, to the world. Tell the story as it unfolds in different communities the length and breadth of our land.
“Don't be afraid to start this process. Never in our history have we had the chance to delve into and decide what is best for Scotland. It is essential that both broadcasters raise their game and take a central role in articulating to the people of Scotland the possibilities that Independence or remaining in the Union offer.”
Calling the rally “Illuminate the Debate”, organisers have adopted the theme of light in order to symbolise what they say is a need for enlightened discussion. The group criticised what they called the “nit-picky debate” over process that has thus far dominated media output.
They added: “What we need is serious, balanced and informative debate looking at how Scotland wants to grow as a society, the ills that need cured, and the best way for us as a nation to progress.”
Insisting that the Yes and No camps be represented equally at all times, the rally will call for balance from broadcasters whenever the referendum is discussed. There will also be calls for better quality programing from both broadcasters and more input from women, minority groups and charities.
The spokesperson added: “STV have shown a desire to invest in news and current affairs with the excellent Scotland Tonight, however it could do more.
“BBC Scotland has a greater budget through the licence fee, but is currently having that budget cut at a time of great importance to Scotland. It is simply not acceptable that journalists are facing the prospect of compulsory redundancy at this historic period.
“Instead of laying staff off, BBC Scotland should be fighting to protect its budget and investing in quality news and current affairs programmes. We need a weekly Question Time style referendum programme that will allow both the Yes and No campaign groups to be questioned.
“We need to ensure that both sides have equal representation whenever referendum issues are discussed. We also need transparency to ensure that commentators and journalists, whose constitutional views are well known, are not presented to the Scottish public as though objective.”
The rally, which will be open to the public, will see walkers start off from two different locations in Glasgow to converge at a central destination.
Organisers have said that exact locations have yet to be decided, but that further details will be announced as soon as they have been agreed with Glasgow Council.
Urging people to attend, the spokesperson said: “Anyone concerned about the quality of debate from our broadcasters needs to get themselves to Glasgow on the 23rd of February. The more people attend the rally the greater the impact.”