STV increase Scottish based output as BBC falls back

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by a Newsnet reporter

A study by broadcasting regulators Ofcom has found that Scottish Television has increased its Scottish produced output by over fifty per cent over the last five years, in contrast to a three per cent fall by the BBC.

The increase by STV is thought to be a direct result of its opt-out policy that saw the Scottish broadcaster commission and transmit shows designed for a Scottish based audience in place of shows from the ITV network.

The Ofcom report, published on 21st July, provided figures that showed STV had increased its Scotland-only content from 701 hours in 2006 to 1082 in 2010.  In contrast the BBC’s output fell from 827 hours to 799.

Speaking to allmediascotland, an STV spokeswoman said the increase in hours “illustrates our commitment to Scottish production”.

She added: “For the past three years, STV has aired more non-network, first-run original programming than BBC Scotland, which illustrates our commitment to Scottish production.

“We aim to provide a schedule comprising a good mix of network material and home grown productions, alongside our dedicated and localised popular news service.

“This strategy has proven successful, with our peak time audience in 2010 continuing to be on par with the ITV Network.”

The figures also show that in terms of original Scottish output STV overtook the BBC in 2008 and between 2009 and 2010 STV output increased by a massive 29 per cent.  In terms of news and current affairs both broadcasters were broadly similar, STV saw its content share fall from 581 hours in 2006 to 492 in 2010.  The BBC’s output for the same period rose from 487 to 499 hours.

A BBC Scotland spokesperson pointed out that BBC ALBA was not included in the figures and added: “Our spend for non-network programming has been around the same level year-on-year over last few years.

“Hours have gone down slightly over the last five years as the sports rights market has become more competitive with the effect that we’re now doing less live football.

“Another factor is that we have decided to put more resource into high impact series such as History of Scotland, Making Scotland’s Landscapes, comedy series such as Burnistoun, Limmy’s Show and Gary: Tank Commander and dramas such as The Field of Blood.

“Audience appreciation is at its highest level for Scotland-only programmes for some years so we believe this strategy is working well.”

The report revealed that the total spend on output for Scottish viewers stood at £52 million, a fall of a fifth over the past five years.  However there was a year-on-year rise of one per cent between 2009 and 2010 with STV.

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