WHILE social media and the tabloids will have a field day over Piers Morgan's infantile behaviour on last Tuesday's edition of Good Morning Britain ("Piers Morgan quits Good Morning Britain after 41,000 complaints over remarks", The Herald, March 10), the affair raises serious questions over the future of news broadcasting in this country. These questions are highlighted also with the proposed launch of two new television news channels.

Three obvious areas of concern centre around who owns these channels and how they are to be funded and regulated. While no one wishes to live in an authoritarian state, regulation of broadcasting to ensure political balance is a key feature of an open, democratic society. It is not good enough for individuals behind these proposals to assert that they will be respectful of the need to ensure balanced content and commentary.

Anyone who views the broadcast news media in the United States will be aware that it has abandoned any semblance of balance or objectivity. Indeed it is not any exaggeration to say that the outpourings of US news channels may contribute significantly to the country's deep and seemingly irreconcilable political, cultural and racial differences. Notwithstanding the recent elections that country remains a powder keg.

A personal opinion is that the standard of news broadcasting in this country, including at the BBC, has declined in recent years; attempts to improve it however must not take us down the US road.

Brian Harvey, Hamilton.

* TIME was when the BBC could claim to be the nation’s public service broadcaster. Not any longer. Classic FM now gives excellent, frequent, unbiased public service notices practically once an hour. These include a public health message about the NHS and the coronavirus situation –‘‘stay at home’’; a National Census awareness slot – its importance and benefits; a business export drive slot – if you want to expand your business by exporting there is government advice and help available; a post-Brexit EU business slot – if you export to the EU you need to fill in forms – help is available with this.

Does the BBC feel no obligation to inform the public of such essential, non-political information?

Doug Clark, Currie.

WHY CAN'T HEALTH CARE BE LOCAL?

I WAS alarmed and upset to learn that elderly friends from my area were unable to receive treatment at our local hospital in the Vale of Leven 10 minutes away by car but had to travel to Royal Alexandria Hospital (RAH) in Paisley in the late afternoon. This entailed them driving for an hour and three-quarters in heavy traffic. There has been great play made of preserving our older citizens' lives from the virus, which does not square with a willingness to have them venture miles from home to seek treatment.

When people of mature ages who have been locked down for almost a year are faced with driving a considerable distance in heavy traffic to seek emergency treatment it is not a laughing matter. At the RAH the assumption was made that the driver could return home and await a phone call to collect the patient later. Being distressed by the journey there, he was unwilling to do this, suspecting that he would probably have to turn round fairly quickly to face the same stress again. The staff were understanding and allowed him to remain in the waiting room until 3.30am, when his wife was discharged.

My friends had no complaints about the level of service received on arrival. The results of the test were to be sent to Vale of Leven and follow-up appointments made there, but the patient in the bed next to my friend who lived in Johnstone was also told his follow-up appointment would be in Vale of Leven, meaning a considerable journey for him.

Why is the health service so disjointed that patients are sent from pillar to post instead of receiving attention closer to home? This is unacceptable, especially for the elderly and those who do not have access to personal transport.

Henry Boswell, Cardross.

COVID: A BREATH OF FRESH AIR

IN trying to get free from Covid, why do we concentrate so much on "Hands, Face, Space" and so little on good ventilation? Since last May, the World Health Organisation has acknowledged that much of the dangerous spread of Covid is by aerosol, indoors, face-to-face, especially in noisy surroundings where you have to raise your voice. That is why singing shoulder to shoulder in churches is banned, but outdoors with much better ventilation and well separated it is relatively safe. Singing softly outdoors is better still.

As well as ventilation, one can use high-strength UV lights very successfully to kill the virus while in aerosols. Such lights would be quite dangerous to skin (which is why we use suncreams), but they can be used quite safely in combination with sizeable air conditioning or ventilation systems when the air is circulated through a box containing the UV lamp. Such lights are available commercially in the US and can be retro-fitted to existing air circulation systems.

Why do we not provide loans or subsidise the purchase of such systems for larger shops and churches? It would be far less costly than the amount wasted on phone tracking apps, and much more effective. It could also help churches to reopen with singing.

Peter MD Gray, Aberdeen.

GONE, BUT NOT FORGOTTEN

REGARDING recent correspondence, it is a stubborn fact that Latin and Greek are two dead languages that will live forever.

Iain MacInnes, Glasgow.