We sit down with STV’s Director of Channels, Bobby Hain, as the Scottish broadcaster looks to increase its portfolio with three more local TV stations. STV plan to launch three new local stations in Aberdeen, Ayr and Dundee after being awarded the local licences by broadcasting regulator Ofcom.
STV recently announced extended hours and new programming for the City channels – how well have STV Edinburgh and STV Glasgow been received?
City TV in Glasgow and Edinburgh has been received positively by audiences in both cities with one third of the potential three million consumers tuning in across the first month of both channels being on air. The recently extended schedules allow us to incorporate additional news and sport which we have found perform particularly well with audiences, and we’re now on air from 7am with kids’ programming which offers a wider variety of content for viewers.
With the application to deliver local TV to three other areas of Scotland, is there a vision to create an ‘STV 2’ network?
STV has successfully secured additional licences to deliver local TV in Aberdeen, Ayr and Dundee and work is underway on these new services.
That gives us a presence across the majority of Scotland centred around the five licence areas. While the new channels will undoubtedly benefit from STV’s existing presence, facilities and extensive experience as a digital broadcaster, each of the licences holds its own public service broadcasting commitments and STV will deliver on these.
What is the reasoning behind having the schedules mirroring each other?
Our services are a combination of locally relevant news and current affairs programming for each city together with material that is seen on more than one service. For example, the classic long running STV soap ‘Take the High Road’ proved popular on STV Glasgow since launch so we are offering STV Edinburgh viewers the same content.
We have also introduced a series of programmes in peak-time in the new schedules which reflect popular strands of our flagship live programmes, ‘The Fountainbridge Show’ and ‘The Riverside Show’, and cover both cities.
A further benefit of aligning schedules at this stage is that the local TV network is introducing a network-wide advertising break which opens up opportunities for national advertisers who want to take advantage of targeting their audience on local TV.
How does having the partnerships with Glasgow Caledonian University and Edinburgh Napier University help the STV local channels?
The higher education partnerships enhance our proposition as the Principal of each university sits on the respective channel’s board. The launch of these channels also offers students an opportunity to gain experience in a live TV environment. In total this means over 120 students from Glasgow Caledonian and Edinburgh Napier universities have gained experience so far through their involvement in broadcast operations of the channels.
These new services for Aberdeen, Ayr and Dundee will also be delivered in partnership with Robert Gordon University and North East Scotland College in Aberdeen, the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) in Ayr, and Abertay University and Dundee and Angus College in Dundee.
Have you had the chance to view any other local stations around the UK and what is your take on them?
It’s very encouraging to see so many different styles and flavours of content. Local TV has a fantastic opportunity to connect and engage local audiences in a way that other services don’t.