There appears to be no sign of an abatement in media coverage and criticism of STV’s now relatively long-established decision to opt-out of screening a number of high-profile ITV1 drama programmes, including Downton Abbey – often in preference for Scots-made fare.
Readers’ letters critical of STV’s stance have appeared in newspapers across the country; BBC TV Scotland last week broadcast an interview with STV’s managing director of broadcasting, Bobby Hain, on its flagship, ‘Reporting Scotland’ news programme; and The Times carried a half-page news feature with the heading: ‘TV is Accused of ‘Petty Censorship’ as Viewers Miss out on Downton Abbey’.
The criticism extended to yesterday's Evening Express newspaper, based in Aberdeen, where TV critic, Ewan Cameron, provided “five reasons why I’d rather watch ITV London than STV”.
1. I’d take quality over patriotism any day. STV’s obsession with ‘Scottish programmes for Scottish viewers’ is bonkers. Who wants to watch a forgettable 14 year-old Billy Connolly documentary when they could be watching a big-budget ITV1 drama?
2. Stop bragging about Taggart – it hasn’t been good since Taggart died. An STV spokesman breathlessly explained that Scottish viewers would soon get to see the brand-new episode of Taggart before the rest of the UK. They’ve now withheld so many programmes that their Taggart boast is akin to snatching someone’s fillet steak then replacing it with a ready meal.
3. Just be honest about what you’re doing. There’s no point bragging that STV’s programmes are for the benefit of Scottish viewers if your Scots-only schedule is made up of repeats like the woeful 80s sitcom, Duty Free. Just admit you’re being cheapskates who don’t want to pay for expensive ITV1 programmes.
4. The Hour. It makes the One Show look like Question Time and follows STV’s mantra to the letter – copy popular UK-wide shows for a fraction of the budget and be blinded to the fact they’ll be mediocre due to the number of Scottish accents on screen. Only spinsters from Troon watch The Hour on a regular basis.
5. The digital revolution makes it all so easy. Now that we’ve all gone digital, it’s easier than ever to switch to the English feed. Perhaps all set-top packaging should have a sticker boasting one extra channel – ‘Not STV’.