Ofcom Sounds Note of Caution over TV Hopes for South Scotland

Reports that people living in the Scottish Borders might be able to tune into STV rather than programming eminating from Newcastle have been met with a note of caution from the broadcasting regulators, Ofcom.

Extensive coverage yesterday and today suggested that Ofcom had provided interim guidance to Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, that might see STV finally broadcast throughout Scotland, including the south of Scotland where Tyne Tees is the de facto Channel 3 provider, for an estimated 100,000 households.

While there is no disputing that part of the guidance raises the issue, it is within the terms of footnote that reads: “In our second [public service broadcasting] review we recommended that if the Channel 3 service were to continue beyond 2014 it should be based either on the existing regional map or on separate licences for each of the five nations (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands) – See Putting Viewers First, paragraph 8.64.

“It is worth noting that although this would be feasible under the existing legislative framework, a renewed regional licence may include all or part of an additional area only with the consent of the existing licence holder. A proposal to redraw the Channel 3 map on a national basis would, for example, require the consent of ITV plc (as the holder of the Wales & West and Border region licences) to create separate Scottish and Welsh licences.”

Among the variables is whether STV will have its licence renewed.

An Ofcom spokesperson told allmediascotland: “Ofcom raised the possibility of a single Scottish licence nearly three years ago – our new report does nothing more than reiterate that it is one possible option. But to suggest TV viewers in southern Scotland will receive STV instead of Border Television is to second guess the outcome of a number of regulatory decisions about the future of public service broadcasting that will be taken over the next two years.”