Page last updated at 17:06 GMT, Thursday, 3 December 2009

STV not worried about viewers switching to ITV1 London

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STV says it is not worried about viewers watching ITV1 London

STV says it "is not worried" about Scottish viewers switching to ITV1 London to watch the programmes which the station has dropped.

Research has suggested up to 140,000 viewers in Scotland watch The Bill and Doc Martin on ITV1 London on satellite and cable tv.

And some Scottish newspapers are even printing the London station's schedule.

STV says ITV1 London is "only one of 500 channels" available on satellite and cable television.

The relationship between STV and ITV has been badly strained and the two companies are currently suing each other for more than £30m.

Can't worry'

In an interview with the media website, STV's director of regulatory affairs Bobby Hain said: "I'm a lot more worried about some of the other channels on that list than people floating across to watch an occasional programme (on ITV1 London) which we're not carrying."

"For STV to compete, it needs to compete with all 500 channels and STV can't worry about the two or three hours of difference where people might be tempted to go down the dial."

ITV is suing STV for £38m over money it claims it is owed for programmes which STV decided not to show.

STV said it was entitled to do this and is counter-suing ITV for a similar amount.

About 60% of Scottish viewers have access to ITV1 London on either Sky or and Virgin.

In the summer, STV decided to drop the vast bulk of ITV network drama other than Emmerdale and Coronation Street.

Different schedules

It has filled some of the gaps with Scottish factual programmes - but many of the network dramas have been replaced with imports, repeats and films.

Other changes have meant that STV and ITV1 are often running completely different schedules in the afternoon and late evening - meaning that Scottish viewers with satellite TV have, in effect, got a wider choice.

STV remains the most popular commercial channel in Scotland by far.

The channel's share of the audience in Scotland is now lower than ITV1's share of the audience across England, Wales and the Borders for the first time ever.

Historically, STV had some of the highest ratings in the network.

Mr Hain admitted that not all the station's scheduling decisions had worked.

He said the station's strategy to take more control of its destiny was in its early stages and viewers could look forward to a more diverse, higher quality schedule next year.

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