Ratings cheer for STV

STV’S controversial policy of increasingly opting out of network programmes scored a notable success on Monday and Sunday, with viewing figures for its drama, Sirens, said to have bettered those of the alertnative shown throughout the rest of the UK.

While Sirens – starring Scottish actress, Daniela Nardini – secured a 20 per cent share of its available audience on Sunday and a 21.5 per cent one the following evening, Wuthering Heights, shown elsewhere by ITV, secured slightly less: 19 per cent for Sunday and 18 per cent on Monday.

A mixed reception has greeted STV recently been dropping some well-known ITV1 programmes, such as The Bill, for locally-made programmes.

Says Bobby Hain, managing director for broadcasting at STV: “We’re in the early stages of what is a long-term strategy for STV, developing a more relevant, affordable and diverse schedule for viewers in Scotland.

“We’re delighted with the performance of Sirens, performing ahead of the ITV network and winning its slot in Scotland and we’re looking forward to more ratings successes in future as we take greater control of our schedule, invest in more original productions and bring some exciting new series on to STV.”

* Meanwhile, STV has sent a letter to The Herald newspaper rebutting a claim – on Monday just days after STV revealed a fall in its operating profit  – that it has asked broadcasting regulators, Ofcom, for a £5 million bail-out.

While STV has long made it known that producing news is becoming increasingly unviable, financially, it says it has not applied for funding. It has, though, also made it known that it would be up for applying for the long known-about funding being proposed by the recent Digital Britain report, which is suggesting three TV news pilots, one in Scotland, to be broadcast on channel three and to be paid for from the TV licence fee.

Says STV, in the letter: “It is important to correct your paper’s assertion that STV has “asked the TV regulator for a £5m bail-out” following our interim results announcement last week.

“Ofcom, in its Public Service Broadcast Review, and subsequently Lord Carter’s Digital Britain report have recommended public funding be applied to all Channel 3 licences across the UK, to maintain guaranteed, impartial news to provide plurality beyond the BBC, since the diminishing value of analogue spectrum, soon to be switched off, means such services are unlikely to be viable on a purely commercial basis.

“Pilot schemes are proposed to start next year in Scotland, Wales and one English region. This is a long-term, structural issue facing all Channel 3 licensees, un-related to the current economic downturn and to suggest otherwise, as your report did, is misleading.”