Spat brewing over TV news numbers?

A SPAT could be brewing between the head of news and current affairs at BBC Scotland and a news presenter at rivals, stv.

It follows a letter to The Herald, published on Tuesday, from the BBC’s Atholl Duncan, who has taken issue with a claim that stv’s early evening news programmes, Scotland Today and North Tonight outperforms – in terms of audience – its BBC counterpart, Reporting Scotland.

Says Duncan: “While I normally believe that the sight of TV executives throwing viewing figures at each other is a tad vulgar, on this occasion I feel it is important that your readers know the current position.”

He was responding to the claim that ratings for Scotland Today and North Tonight have grown year on year, up ten per cent, to 24.6 per cent, and they regularly outperform BBC One’s Six O’Clock News, whose ratings have fallen four per cent, year on year; the share of BBC One’s Reporting Scotland also being down – seven per cent, year on year.

Adds Duncan: “I would like to make clear that Reporting Scotland is Scotland’s most-watched TV news programme. It has consistently attracted more viewers than the ITV programmes Scotland Today and North Tonight for many years. According to the independent Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board’s figures, the average nightly audience for the 6.30 edition of Reporting Scotland for this year (January to August 2007) has been 455,000.

“When you add together the audience for Scotland Today and North Tonight over the same period, the nightly average is 380,000. BBC Scotland’s lunchtime and late-evening bulletins also have substantial leads over ITV’s equivalent Scottish programmes.:

But yesterday, Scotland Today’s John MacKay bit back, in his video blog. Here.