Local programming a hit, says STV

A STRATEGY by STV of opting out of the ITV network at peak viewing times to broadcast locally-made programmes is, says the company, “delivering further savings whilst at the same time boosting our Scottish audience”.

The claim is being made today STV in a trading statement, published ahead of its interim results being revealed at the end of August.

There was also encouragement on the national versus regional advertising revenue front, with the company saying the former “continues to be challenging” while the latter has “improved significantly” since the first three months of this year.

Says the statement: “The national advertising market continues to be challenging; however, we are encouraged by regional advertising revenues which have improved significantly since the first quarter and are in line with expectations at -12 per cent for the second quarter and -19 per cent for the first half.

“This compares with the ITV Network performance of -19 per cent in both Q2 and H1 [first half], with STV’s national revenues broadly in line with this performance.

“Despite the challenging market, we continue to grow our share of the Scottish market in line with our growth KPI [key performance indicator] targets.

“We remain focused on delivering cost efficiencies throughout the business to help mitigate the effects of the economic downturn and maintain our focus on growth opportunities. Our strategy of increased peak time programme opt-outs from the ITV network schedule is simultaneously delivering further savings whilst at the same time boosting our Scottish audience.”

Adds the statement: “We are currently awaiting confirmation of a Taggart commission for 2009. Given the strong performance of the show and the strong ROI [return on investment] it produces for the ITV Network we are confident about the future of the series.” But it does later say that renegotiated terms with its bank takes into account “a potential £3 million approximate reduction in earnings in the event that Taggart is not commissioned in 2009 and beyond.”

“Our website – www.stv.tv – has continued to develop in line with expectations and now has over 100,000 registered users.”

It continues that the collapse, earlier this week, of sports broadcaster, Setanta – which hired STV services such as post-production and operated from a whole floor in STV’s four-floor Glasgow HQ – will result in a bad debt.

It says: “We note the placing into administration of Setanta’s UK business. Our potential bad debt exposure is limited to £0.2 million and we are engaged with various parties to identify future opportunities.”

Says Rob Woodward, chief executive officer of STV Group plc: “STV continues to take control of its destiny and we have maintained positive momentum through 2009.

“We have secured a significant new commission from the BBC [Antiques Road Trip] and have a healthy pipeline of other key projects in development.

“On screen, we continue to take greater control of our own schedule, producing more home-grown programming and our online business continues to grow in line with expectations.

“Whilst we continue to operate in a very challenging economic climate, our efficiency improvements and cost reduction activities are helping to mitigate the worst effects of the economic downturn.”