The two licences still produce regional programmes, although the only difference between them is the respective news programmes: STV News broadcasts separate bulletins to Northern Scotland (including an opt-out for the Tayside area), Glasgow/West Central Scotland, and Edinburgh/East Central Scotland. There is no STV South as Southern Scotland is part of the ITV Border region (Border being owned by ITV plc) and programmes are presented there under the ITV Border brand.
Emphasising the fact that STV is essentially one channel across the two regions, there is a single director of channels (Bobby Hain - former managing director of Scottish Television), and a single head of news (Gordon MacMillan - former head of news of Scottish TV). Terms in the renewed licences for both STV Central and STV North also mean that regional non-news programmes are shared (and identically scheduled) across both licences.
Although the stations are only required to produce 1.5 hours a week of regional non-news programmes (a single arrangement covering both North and Central regions), the chief executive of STV Group plc, the stations have long aimed to deliver more output.
Today, news and current affairs forms the bulk of STV's regular programming on Channel 3, which includes the topical analysis programme Scotland Tonight. The company also produces many Gaelic programmes, some of which are now produced for the Scots Gaelic-language channel, BBC Alba, alongside archive material including Speaking our Language and Machair. On a network scale, one of STV's most famous exports is the long-running crime drama Taggart, set in Glasgow.
The network's range of programmes was dramatically expanded during the 1990s under director Alistair Moffat. Previous TV programming includes the serial dramas Take the High Road, Garnock Way & High Living, gameshows Now You See It and Wheel of Fortune, crime series Crimedesk with Bill Knox, long-running documentary series Weir's Way, lifestyle show Room at the Top, and Glen Michael's Cartoon Cavalcade, which lasted 26 years. Another of the station's best-known programmes, Scotsport, ran continuously for 51 years until May 2008 and remains one of the world's longest-running television sports programmes.
In July 2009, STV announced that it was withdrawing some networked programmes such as The Bill, Doc Martin, Midsomer Murders, Poirot, Lewis and a number of other high profile ITV network dramas from its schedules, instead preferring to concentrate on programming made within Scotland. The practice of dropping networked shows had been in operation for other programmes since November 2008 when STV announced it would opt out of programmes they claimed were not performing well in their broadcast region, including Sharpe's Peril, Al Murray's Happy Hour, Moving Wallpaper, Benidorm and The Alan Titchmarsh Show. ITV's coverage of the FA Cup was also dropped.
ITV plc claimed that STV were in breach of their network agreements by making this decision and sued STV for £38 million. STV launched its own legal action against ITV plc, claiming the company was owed money and unhappy about promotional advertising of their services. The then executive chairman of ITV plc, Michael Grade claimed his company was the "victim" in the ongoing dispute.
Amid many protests, the company's chief executive Rob Woodward admitted in December 2009 that STV had made a 'major mistake' by dropping some of the networked dramas and replacing them in some cases with imported output, repeats and films. The company pledged to continue with its plan to produce more regional programming and opt out of networked output with further plans announced in August 2010.
On 27 April 2011, ITV plc and STV settled their legal dispute, with the former receiving £18 million from STV. The £18 million consists of a £7.2 million cash payment payable in 2011 and £10.8 million either in programme rights at the end of the year or cash, as adjusted, depending on further discussions with ITV plc. The programming rights payment is capped at a maximum of £15 million. In addition, STV will receive £2.4 million of credit for programme opt outs in 2011. STV said it believed it was in the best interests of shareholders to end the long period of uncertainty. The parties have agreed the basis of a more collaborative relationship for the future.
In March 2012, a deal was announced between ITV and the other Channel 3 licence holders which would transform its commercial relationship with them after the broadcasters negotiated new Channel 3 networking arrangements. The deal would see STV and UTV become "affiliates" of the network, meaning they would pay an up-front fee for the rights to broadcast ITV content. At the time, the licence holders paid a percentage of the Channel 3 network costs based on their share of qualifying revenue. On 23 August 2012 STV confirmed the new network agreement with ITV was in operation.
In March 2010, The Daily Telegraph reported that Ofcom would launch an investigation over claims that STV allowed the Scottish Government to influence its schedules and replace networked series with Scottish-based programmes. An Ofcom report released four months later cleared STV of allowing political interference within feature series, but 18 short social action programmes were found to have been influenced too closely by sponsorship from Government agencies and initiatives.
The STV studios in Glasgow were originally located in the former Theatre Royal in the Cowcaddens area of the city. The first programme broadcast by STV from the Theatre Royal studios was This is Scotland on 31 August 1957. In 1974, the company sold the Theatre Royal to Scottish Opera for conversion back to a full theatre and national opera house and moved into custom-built studios next door. The association with Cowcaddens ended in July 2006 when the station moved to new, smaller studios in Pacific Quay, alongside the Glasgow Science Centre.
In Edinburgh, STV converted the Gateway Theatre in Leith Walk into colour studios during the mid-late 1960s - a facility which proved especially useful in 1969 when a fire gutted studio A at the Theatre Royal, killing two firemen. The Edinburgh studios later became a permanent production centre for Take the High Road before being closed in the early 1990s to save costs. STV's Edinburgh base now consists of smaller studios for local news and advertising operations. In April 2012, the Edinburgh operation was moved from George Street in the city centre to a new studio at Fountainbridge.
STV North's Aberdeen headquarters moved to new smaller studios in the city's Tullos area in June 2003, vacating a converted tram depot that had been used since Grampian Television's launch in September 1961. Expansions to the Queen's Cross complex were made in 1983 and 1987 - the former as part of a £5 million investment into the company's technical facilities.
Around the time of the station's launch, Grampian also established premises in Dundee, later moving to Albany House in 1980 and Harbour Chambers in 1998. In April 2008, a new Dundee studio for local news and advertising operations was opened in the Seabraes area of the city.
Grampian opened a base for local Highlands & Islands newsgathering in Inverness in 1983, situated in Huntly Street, which remains open today. A studio complex in Stornoway was opened in 1993 to accommodate the expansion of the station's Scots Gaelic programming production. The studios closed in 2000 following the axing of the Gaelic news service, Telefios.
Grampian also established secondary studios in Edinburgh during the late 1960s from where some of the station's light entertainment programming was produced. The studios were closed in 1969.
On 21 April 2010, STV plc. announced their intention to launch an HD channel on digital TV, before the 2010 World Cup. The station launched on 6 June 2010, initially broadcasting on Freeview channel 51, from the Black Hill, Keelylang Hill and Bressay transmitters, and now broadcasts from all post-digital switchover transmitters in its coverage area. STV HD was also made available on Virgin Media channel 113 in STV's transmission area soon after the launch of Freeview. The channel follows the launch of ITV HD, which became available on 2 April 2010 to viewers in the Scottish borders (who are served by ITV Border), England and Wales. STV plc. had been in talks with BSkyB, Freesat and the ITV Network with a view to making STV HD available via Sky and Freesat soon after the channels' initial launch. A test version of the channel was available free-to-air via satellite, but had to be manually tuned as it was not included on either the Sky or Freesat EPG.
In September 2013, STV announced via Twitter that STV HD will be available for the first time on the Sky and Freesat EPGs from April 2014, nearly four years after first launching the channel on Freeview and Virgin Media. STV HD was added to Freesat and Sky on 28 April 2014.
Currently, STV HD is a single service across all of STV's transmission areas, carrying the programmes (including news and advertising) as seen in West Central Scotland, with no regional variations available.
On 4 January 2011, Freeview announced details for the launch of ITV +1, together with the possibility that both STV and UTV would launch their own timeshift services, STV +1 and UTV +1 in Scotland and Northern Ireland respectively. STV later confirmed that it would launch STV +1 at 8pm on 11 January 2011. The channel is available to Freeview viewers on channel 33 and Virgin Media cable customers on channel 114.
The timeshift channel STV+1 has been replaced with the micro Channel 3 region serving the Dundee area on satellite. STV+1 had been available on satellite, but not carried on either Sky EPG or Freesat channel guides. Now the service has been scrapped and replaced with the last remaining STV micro region of which is not available on satellite.
Originally there were two regional variations of STV +1 on Freeview; one for north and one for central Scotland. The north used to receive the Aberdeen-based news and advertisements and the Central Belt service carried the Edinburgh-based news and advertisements allowing viewers in the East who could watch STV's 6pm & 10:30pm news programmes for the micro-region to watch the bulletins an hour later.
STV serves central and northern Scotland. Within STV, Scotland is split into two regions and four sub-regions. Networked and regional programming is the same in both regions, apart from regional news and advertising. Within both regions, there are further opt-outs providing sub-regional news and commercials.
STV North (formerly Grampian Television) is based in Aberdeen and serves Northern Scotland. The main news programme serving the area is the North edition of STV News at Six, alongside short regional bulletins (STV News/Good Morning Scotland) on weekdays. The main 6pm programme on weeknights includes local opt-outs from Aberdeen (serving the North East and Highlands and Islands) and Dundee (serving Tayside and North East Fife). The two sub-regions also receive separate commercials.
STV Central (formerly Scottish Television) is based at the STV Group headquarters in Glasgow and serves Central Scotland. Two editions of STV News at Six are produced and broadcast each weeknight from Edinburgh (for Fife, the Lothians and parts of Central Scotland), and Glasgow (for Strathclyde, parts of Central Scotland and Lochaber). The two sub-regions also receive separate late night news bulletins and local commercials. Lunchtime bulletins are broadcast from Glasgow across the Central region - the Glasgow newsroom also produces pan-regional bulletins for the North and Central regions at weekends.
Altogether, the regions and sub-regions serve a population of 4,993,590.STV North (pop: 1,309,110):
STV Aberdeen (pop: 827,390) - Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Highland (except Lochaber), Moray, na h-Eileanan Siar, Orkney and Shetland
STV Dundee (pop: 481,720) - Angus, Dundee, North East Fife, Perth and Kinross
STV Central (pop: 3,684,480):
STV Edinburgh (pop: 1,191,030) - Clackmannanshire, East Lothian, Edinburgh, Fife (except North East Fife), Midlothian and West Lothian
STV Glasgow (pop: 2,493,450) - Argyll and Bute, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Falkirk, Glasgow, Inverclyde, Lochaber, North Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, Stirling, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, West Dunbartonshire.
The areas of Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders are currently served by ITV Border.
STV is broadcast on the Digital 3&4 multiplex from the following main transmitters (and their dependent relays):
STV has resisted the adoption of the generic ITV branding that is now commonplace throughout the ITV plc regions in the southern Scottish borders, England and Wales, Northern Ireland, and the Channel Islands, although it has now adopted a single Scottish identity for both its franchises. The only mentioning of the ITV brand on Channel 3 in the STV regions occurs during ITV Breakfast (Good Morning Britain and Lorraine), which operates as a separate station, networked programmes, and national ITV News bulletins.
STV's official website, stv.tv, consists of news, sport, entertainment, weather, competitions and programming information. The website also features a video catch-up service, STV Player, offering a chance to see networked and regional programming aired on the station for 30 days after their original broadcast. Exclusive online programming in the form of regular video blogs are also produced for the website. In September 2010 TV Genius' content discovery platform was chosen by STV to incorporate an online recommender system for its STV site.