Page last updated at 15:11 GMT, Thursday, 17 September 2009 16:11 UK

Major changes in pipeline at STV

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STV's plans depend on winning public funding

STV, the commercial Scottish broadcaster, is planning major changes to its early evening news programme.

If the proposal goes ahead it would mean a downgrade of its programming based in Aberdeen.

The firm wants public funding to extend its news operation, producing an hour-long programme covering international, UK, Scottish and regional news.

This "ideal" plan is to be set out on Friday by chief executive Rob Woodward at a conference in Cambridge.

It would mean the week-day programme would include a ten-minute section of more local news, extending the current five-minute bulletins from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee.

There could also be bulletins covering the Highlands and the Borders.

Most of its UK and international coverage would be provided by ITN, the independent TV news service that already makes News at Ten and News at Six for STV and ITV companies, as well as Channel Four News.

Job concerns

The plans would mean the new programme coming from the company's Glasgow headquarters, ending the nightly half-hour news programme from Aberdeen that was a mainstay of Grampian TV until that company was bought by STV.

North Tonight and Scotland Today, the former names of the 6pm half-hour programmes, were recently rebranded as STV News.

The prospect of centralising in Glasgow has raised concerns about journalist job losses in the Aberdeen studio.

The company claimed its plans "would add new layers of editorial content and real viewer choice, further differentiating STV from BBC Scotland".

Responding to the concerns about journalist staffing, it pointed out that its plans would mean a rise in the number of minutes produced daily in Scotland from 70 to 90.

Public funding

However, the proposal depends on subsidy, because maintaining news programmes from advertising revenue is not seen as sustainable.

That has been accepted by the UK government and the communications regulator.

It is considering various options for creating a fund from which broadcasters could bid for money to provide public service programming.

A spokeswoman for STV said it would be possible to get the service working by late next year, but it depended on the schedule for the introduction of a public service broadcasting fund.

The broadcaster's chief executive, Rob Woodward, said: "The media landscape has changed dramatically and it is vital that we innovate, enhance and expand our vision. Our proposal offers viewers something that is new and exciting and, through technological innovation, relevant for a 21st Century devolved Scotland.

"Our proposal would ultimately increase consumer choice and would provide a strong alternative to the BBC, increasing the plurality of news provision across Scotland."

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