ITV boss in reported ‘partners’ plea during dispute with STV

THE boss of ITV has suggested relations between his company and Scottish broadcasters, STV, would not have deteriorated to the extent they have had STV acted like “partners’.

Reports the BBC, Michael Grade was speaking to a committee at Westminster about various legal actions ITV and STV have taken out against each other, including a demand by ITV that STV pay towards the making of UK-wide, network programmes – some high-cost, lavish dramas – that they have opted out of screening.

STV believes it is entitled to opt out of programmes after it has reached a threshold of just over 4500 hours of network programmes per year. It is counter-suing for alleged breaches of new media rights and also for what it claims to be unpaid advertising revenue.

Grade is quoted saying to the Westminster culture committee: “It’s just a shame that if they have got a cash problem, if they have, they did not sit down with us at the beginning as you would do if you have got ‘an onerous contract’. You go and talk to the people. We’re partners in the business, we should have sat down.”

The BBC also quotes STV saying, in response: “STV has a clear strategy, driven by a strong and dedicated leadership team which has sought dialogue with ITV for over a year, but ITV has refused to engage with this.”

The BBC report continues: “Ratings suggest that up to 140,000 Scots are watching programmes such as The Bill on ITV1 London on satellite and cable although STV insisted it was not worried about this fact and was more concerned about competition from other commercial broadcasters.

“The company accepted that some of its [opting out] decisions had not worked but said its new strategy was still in its early stages. It said viewers could look forward to a richer and more diverse schedule next year.

“STV’s share price is currently close to a record low. At midday [yesterday], the share price was 49.5p and the whole company was worth less than £18 million.”