Viewers Eschew STV Opt-Out

STV’s decision to drop several high-rating peak-time shows from their schedule has failed to generate an expected surge in Scottish viewers opting to switch to watching ITV1.

According to sources at the network, a small number of cable and satellite viewers already opt to by-pass the Glasgow-based station in favour of taking one of the feeds from south of the border.

Available on cable as an Audio Description channel, and on satellite by manually programming a Sky box, ITV1 – or its High Definition sister station – are not officially available in central or northern Scotland under the terms of the established Channel 3 agreement.

And although re-tuning allows access to popular opted-out programming such as Doc Martin, The Bill and FA Cup football, a ITV insider said: “There are people doing it but not in fantastically large numbers. It may be because of the lack of knowledge but there is the option there for a lot of viewers if they have Sky or cable systems and want to see some of the shows not currently screened in Scotland.”

ITV plc’s public affairs executives are understood to have held meetings with a number of MSPs to discuss the current wrangle with STV which is set to head to court to resolve a dispute over payments for network programming.

STV will not screen ITV’s latest blockbuster drama, Collision, next week, despite the presence of Scots actor, Douglas Henshall, in the lead role.