Ever since the merger between Carlton and Granada – and their ITV franchises – the old ‘independent television’ structure has been somewhat troubled.

The ITV Studios in London, formerly the London Weekend Television HQ.

While the new ITVplc acts like its a national channel downgrading its regional structure where possible, the three remaining independents of ITV continue to promote the virtues of local ITV, and prove its far from broken – with some local programming proving hugely popular with viewers, especially in the UTV region.

This doesn’t sit well with ITVplc. STV has dropped, along with UTV, a number of networked ITV programmes in recent weeks and today the battle of ‘old ITV’ and ‘new ITV’ reached a head with London bosses announcing legal action against the Scottish broadcaster which has occupied a slot on the ITV network since the 1950s.

ITVplc Statement on their legal action against fellow ITV broadcaster STV;

ITV plc regrets to announce that it is today issuing legal proceedings against STV to recover a gross debt of £38 million. This debt has accumulated as a result of STV not honouring its contractual contributions towards the Network Programme Budget.

 

STV is attempting retrospectively to opt out of an increasing number of peaktime programmes which contravenes existing agreements. The company is also wrongly attempting to claim a rebate against programmes which have been “written off”.

We are currently withholding monies from STV against this debt and currently believe the net debt is approximately £15 million to £20 million. We have been attempting to resolve this matter for more than a year but unfortunately our efforts have been unsuccessful. Given that we are a commercial organisation, with responsibilities to our shareholders, we are left with no option but to take legal action to recover this sizeable debt.

The STV Studios in Glasgow, on the southbank of the River Clyde.

STV response to ITV statement;

STV Group plc notes ITV plc’s statement made to the press today regarding a potential £15 – £20 million net legal claim against STV.

STV and ITV have been in discussions for many months on numerous matters, of which this is just one. STV has not yet been served with any claim and is disappointed that ITV has acted in this pre-emptive manner. STV will vigorously defend its position and in particular its rights as the licence holder to control its schedule and opt-out of programming in accordance with the Devolution Contract and the relevant Networking Arrangements.

The ITV symbol on the side of their Manchester studios, formerly the Quay Street Granada Television complex.

This is but one of a number of issues between STV and ITV, one of which is a claim against ITV relating to revenues which STV should have received under its Advertising Sales Agreement. Since early 2008 ITV has prevented STV’s independent auditor, Deloitte, from carrying out a full review of all revenue related contracts which STV has the right to do. However, on the 5% of revenues which Deloitte has been able to review, a potential shortfall of approximately £2 million (covering only 30 months of a six year period) was identified. STV will be pursuing this and further claims.

Contrary to the Scottish press reporting STV has been ‘failing’ since ditching ITV programming the truth is actually the opposite. STV has been fairing slightly better than it was with the ITV content. For example earlier this month The Bill: Powerless shown at 9pm averaged a 15.1% audience share on ITV1 while Scotland Goes to War on STV averaged a 16.3%.

Over the most recent Bank Holiday ITV1’s production of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights reached 19% on the Sunday transmission while the seven-year-old mini-series Sirens, starring Daniela Nardini, pulled 19.8% of the audience share for STV. The concluding part of both dramas on the Monday saw Wuthering Heights hold 18% while Sirens had 21.5%.

The STV logo on the side of their Pacific Quays Studios in Scotland.
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