AN SNP MP has urged the BBC to rethink its decision to drop Nicola Sturgeon's coronavirus briefings from its live broadcast schedule.

John Nicolson, MP for Ochil and South Perthshire and the SNP's Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, has asked outgoing BBC Scotland director Donalda Mackinnon to reconsider the decision to stop showing the regular briefings.

Rejecting opposition claims that the First Minister had "politicised" the briefings by regularly complaining about the limits of Holyrood's powers, he insisted she had "studiously avoided makign partisan points".

In a letter addressed to the BBC boss sent today, Mr Nicolson wrote: "It’s clear that there is widespread public opposition to the BBC’s decision to pull the First Minister’s daily Covid briefings from air."

"The events of recent weeks and months have served to underline the importance of television for older people in the midst of the pandemic.

"The decision to move the briefings online will only compound the feeling of neglect among the over-75s, who, only last month, were also stripped of their right to a free TV licence. 

"It’s evident that the BBC has been under sustained pressure from opposition politicians to cancel the First Minister’s briefings with some now crowing about your decision. 

"However, it seems to me that the BBC has a public service obligation to ignore this pressure and focus on the public health benefits of the daily briefings, not least since we are now seeing a rise in infections.

"If you considered daily briefings editorially justifiable in July and August, how can the BBC argue that they are less vital now as we head towards winter?

"These briefings are not party political, no matter how much some angry voices protest that they are.

"The First Minister has studiously avoided making partisan points even when encouraged to do so by journalists, including your own. I urge you to reconsider this decision."

Last week Ms Sturgeon warned that the BBC not broadcasting all of her briefings could put messaging to older people at risk.

She said it was “more important” to be able to reach the public as Covid-19 cases continue to rise.

BBC Scotland suggested it will not televise all of the First Minister’s public health briefings – but the decision has faced a backlash over fears those unable to access technology may be excluded from the Scottish Government’s public health updates.

The BBC said: "It’s not true to say we’ve discontinued covering FM briefings as we indicated last week that we will broadcast them live on TV on their news value  - so for example we showed today’s briefing live on TV as well as on radio and online.

"This week, with new measures now formally in force across Scotland, with specific restrictions being placed on a number of local authority areas, with many students returning to college and university and as the number of Covid cases continues to cause concern, we will cover further briefings live on TV.

"Again, as previously indicated, we will also continue to cover First Minister’s Questions, from Holyrood, every Thursday.

"We will always ensure, across our news outlets, that audiences are kept fully updated on all of these developments.'