COUNCIL bosses are pushing for better from Border television after leader David Parker revealed he is already tuning into STV for news.

Broadcast regulator Ofcom is currently consulting on the best way forward for ITV Border ahead of issuing a new 10-year licence.

It has tabled two options in an effort to provide better news coverage of the Scottish Borders as part of a public consultation excercise.

Yesterday (Thursday) members of the local authority at Newtown backed the second option which would see enhanced news coverage as well as a further 90 minutes of non-news regional programming for Scotland.

But members of the authority, including leader Parker, are already being turned off by the current content. He said: "I am sure we all remember the days of Eric Wallace and stories of cats being rescued from trees in Aspatria - times when we needed an atlas to discover where many of these places on our local news were.

"If anyone is as sad as I am and watches as much news as I do you will know what a hodge podge it is just now from Gateshead.

"I have retuned my Sky box to watch STV instead of Border - the Scottish Borders gets a significant coverage on STV."

ITV Border's current news coverage has come in for much criticism since a controversial merger with Tyne Tees more than four years ago.

As well as 15 minutes of news from the old Border TV region it also features 15 minutes from across the entire merged area - often including stories from North Yorkshire. But the evening bulletins - between 6pm and 6.30pm - still has its most loyal audience in the Scottish Borders with a 41 per cent share of viewers.

But Mr Parker isn't convinced a 30-minute ITV Border will be a great deal better. He added: "Much of the Border news isn't relevant to the Scottish Borders. What is happening on the council in Carlisle isn't of interest to someone in Galashiels."

Last November, the Government announced it would retender the licence for Channel 3 public service broadcasting.

And Ofcom is currently looking for opinions from across the South of Scotland on the two proposed options - a dedicated 30 minutes of news with specific interest to ITV Border viewers and a weekly half-hour current affairs programme for the Border TV region, or the same as option one except 90 minutes of non-news regional programming to be shared with STV.

Senior consultant at Scottish Borders Council Douglas Scott said: "It is considered that the ideal option would be for a Scottish national television channel with strong and effective local news coverage for the Scottish Borders, as happens in BBC radio. This would meet demands for both more Scottish and local news coverage.

"However this is not an option that has been put forward by ITV or the regional television broadcasting companies."

A public consultation on the options will close on May 2.

Members of Scottish Borders Council agreed to unanimously back the second option which would include more Scottish content.

Tweeddale councillor Stuart Bell showed a copy of our sister paper, The Border Telegraph, to demonstrate the major stories which are currently being missed by ITV Border.

He said: "There are many stories relevant to the Scottish Borders and about the Scottish Borders which are being covered by STV but not Border.

"By taking Option 2 we will allow for the Borders to be seen more in other parts of Scotland, and it will provide the opportunities we need to help influence decision makers in other parts of the country."