STV Part of General Drift of Viewers from Main TV Channels, Despite Rise in Home-produced Content

A strategy by STV of increasingly opting out of ITV network programmes, in favour of home-produced content, has been unable to protect the Glasgow broadcaster from joining several other terrestrial TV channels in losing viewers to rivals, figures released today reveal.

Says a report released by communications watchdog, Ofcom, STV last year broadcast an extra 150 hours of non-news programming exclusively for viewers in Scotland.

However, it still suffered a two per cent fall in viewing share in Scotland – joining three fellow public service broadcasting channels in an almost across-the-board drop.

States Ofcom in today’s report: “Despite the reduction in quota [for non-news programming], STV chose to broadcast a higher volume of own-productions for viewers in Scotland, stepping away from ITV network output and substituting new series such as The Football Years and Made in Scotland.

“The introduction of the weekday magazine, The Five Thirty Show, which became The Hour part-way through the year, also contributed to the increase in output levels.

“As a result, non-news volumes rose by 67 per cent in 2009, from 222 hours in 2008 to 370 hours in 2009.”

But STV's share of total viewing in Scotland dropped from 19 per cent to 17 per cent between 2008 and last year.

The decline was part of an overall five per cent fall across PSB channels in 2009. BBC One, BBC Two and Channel 4 each suffered a one per cent reduction in share, while Five remained unchanged at six per cent.

An STV spokesperson told allmediascotland the channel’s share loss was in keeping with the general trend across the main terrestrial channels, as more and more viewers turn to multi-channel TV and consumption patterns change.

Said the spokesperson: “STV is Scotland's most popular peak time TV station and we have confidence in our strategy of delivering a diverse and relevant schedule for Scotland.

“STV's share of viewing for 2010 is broadly in line with the network and we are pleased that the report highlights the significant contribution STV is making to Scotland's production centre and creative industries.”

Better news for the company was that the channel’s evening bulletin attracted a 24 per cent audience share, making it more popular than the average of other bulletins on the ITV network.

Added the spokesperson: “Research has consistently shown that STV news is highly valued by viewers in Scotland.

“STV invests heavily in and provides a unique and relevant news service, offering national, regional and local opts, which has proven to be very popular with our viewers.”