'New Era' Looming Large for STV, says Hain

Scottish broadcasters, STV, are promising a 'new era' for broadcasting – made up of, among other things, internet collaborations, better use of technology and engaging local communities – as it looks to cement itself as a full digital media business.

The company – which last week announced a content sharing deal with internet giants, YouTube – is also looking at 'future-proofing' its business in terms of mobile, HD content and video-on-demand projects – potentially including the likes of Google TV.

Says STV's managing director for broadcasting, Bobby Hain – in an interview with journalist, Shaun Milne, for Scottish media podcast Quiet News Day: “You don’t have to go that far back where people were talking as rivals, talking of the internet and television purely as rivals that one would conflict with the other.

“Very quickly we’ve got to a place where collaboration and partnership is very important to both the YouTubes and the Googles of this world, and also the STVs of this world.

“What it does really is free us up from the constraints of our terrestrial transmitter pattern.

“Here is a series of regions defined by the 1950s technology – there’s one in Central Scotland, one in the North of Scotland – and until the last 10 to 15 years you really had to be in those regions to watch programmes from STV.

“Increasingly online is a way for us to develop our presence and to connect with people who may not live in the area, but may have an interest in Scotland and an interests in our content.

“What’s really exciting from our point of view, with 400 million users worldwide, YouTube is a perfect platform for us to be on and it means if you have any kind of device whether it’s a smartphone, or a PC or a Mac or whatever you have, you can log into YouTube and you can watch the vast majority of the content STV produces.”

But TV still remains at the heart of the company, he told Milne. 

He said: “The idea of being a static television broadcaster is still an attractive idea.

“If you look at it from a technology point of view, the use of a one-to-many broadcast platform is still very efficient.

“If you try to serve streaming version of the X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent down an internet service provider pipes, that’s a very expensive way of doing it by comparison with DTT broadcast platform which you’ve already invested in.

“Broadcast television remains very important for us.

“But increasingly it’s not the only play. We have to be able to be accessed wherever people want us.

“You have things like the STV Player online, increasingly the mobile strategy – our first foray into mobile has been the iPhone app and even the success of that has caught us by surprise.

“We thought there would be an interest, we didn’t think it would be as big as it has been.”

He added: “You cannot sit as a digital terrestrial broadcaster and ignore these technologies, you have to be there for people for when they want you.”