Media in the Press 25.2.11

POST-graduate Journalism student, Jen McClure, takes a look over today’s papers…

Today’s media news is dominated by what has been a long-running legal battle between STV and ITV. The Herald (page 29) reports, in its business section, that the ongoing dispute may be resolved by an out-of-court settlement. The long-running dispute is said to have already racked up some serious bills with STV reported to have been hit with a £3.5 million litigation cost. Upcoming court dates could set them back further. If they lose against ITV, STV could stand to lose £21.1 million in damages.

The figures follow the reporting yesterday of encouraging financial results by STV for last year, including a pre-tax profit increase from £6 million to £13 million for STV’s parent company, STV Group plc.

Rob Woodward, STV’s chief executive is quoted in The Herald saying: “We would welcome the opportunity for an amicable settlement.”

The first of what could be three court cases is due for May and would see STV take ITV to court over advertising sales said to have been conducted in Scotland involving ITV.

Woodward is further quoted, saying: “All components of the business have delivered growth, but the main driver has been the uplift in the advertising market.”

The heading in The Scotsman business (page 1) section, meanwhile, reads: ‘STV profit hike marred by fears over legal dispute’. It reports that STV has withheld its dividend over the uncertainty surrounding the legal dispute with ITV. The Scotsman focusses on an increase yesterday in STV’s share price and the impact on shareholders. It reports that shares surged 17.2 per cent per cent to 140p, despite the dividend delay which the company has not paid since 2007.

Woodward is quoted in The Scotsman, saying: “Shareholders would certainly want confirmation of our dividend policy but given the uncertainly of litigation there is no expectation of reinstating the dividend.” The Scotsman also comments that Woodward declined to say whether STV’s decision to not broadcast ITV’s popular drama, ‘Downton Abbey’, vindicated the results. All he would say is: “Our strongest performing month was October which was when ITV1 was showing Downton Abbey.”

The story continues in The Scottish Sun (page 44), under the heading, ‘Our £21m telly battle gamble’. The Sun reports that STV admits the potential cost of legal fees against ITV if it was to lose its court battle. The lose £21 million, the broadcaster would have to lose the three court battles. The Sun reports each of the legal cases, in turn, quoting Woodward saying, defiantly: “We have a very strong case and we continue to defend our position.”

Elsewhere, The Scotsman (page 18-19), looks at the implications of new regulations to allow product placement on TV shows. The two-page feature explains the new rules in full and discusses the impact of product placement. A spokesperson for broadcasting regulators, Ofcom, is quoted, saying: “We genuinely don’t know whether anyone will [begin placing products] on the 28th…This is the starting gun: from that date, [broadcasters] have the potential to do so, but whether any programme makers have deals in place for that day, we have no idea.”

The Scotsman mentions that the principle of product placement has been in existence in Britain for years, so long as no money has changed hands. In a quirky finish, reporter, Jane Bradley, writes: “This article was brought to you with the use of a Dell computer, a Q-Connect shorthand notebook, and a gallon of Scotsman canteen coffee.”

And finally, the Scottish Daily Mail (page 27) hints that BBC radio presenter, Jo Whiley is… “Not bad for a mother of 45 branded too old for Radio 1.” Whiley, who is the latest BBC personality to be replaced by a younger version of herself is not to be overshadowed by her junior counterparts. Although not sacked, Whiley will move to Radio 2 in April. The Daily Mail mentions that Whiley can party to the small hours, as seen at the NME music awards on Wednesday night.