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STV hails 'strong start' with new commissions

STV has announced a boost for its broadcasting production arm while warning the television advertising market remains soft.

WINNING FORMULA: STV's Scotland Tonight current affairs programme, presented by Rona Dougall, is proving popular. Picture: Colin Templeton
WINNING FORMULA: STV's Scotland Tonight current affairs programme, presented by Rona Dougall, is proving popular. Picture: Colin Templeton

The BBC has commissioned a 20-episode second series of Celebrity Antiques Road Trip while a new comedy panel show called Fake Reaction is the Scottish firm's first deal with BBC Three.

Chief executive Rob Woodward said the company expects to win commissions from all the major terrestrial broadcasters – BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 – for the first time this year.

Previously, STV announced its involvement in development of a historical drama series based on the life of William Wallace.

Mr Woodward also claimed STV's Scotland Tonight current affairs programme was attracting an audience two to three times the size of BBC's Newsnight Scotland.

Speaking following STV's annual meeting in Glasgow yesterday, he said: "We have got off to a strong start and we are very confident about making further announcements.

"Content businesses take time and are about having the right people. Director of content Alan Clements has done a fantastic job and we have brought in a very strong leadership team around him, not just here in Scotland but in London.

"STV Productions is not just about us producing Scottish-based content. It is about us producing relevant content for broadcasters across the UK."

Airtime revenues for the first quarter of the year were down 3% in total, reflecting the uncertainty in the advertising market. Although regional sales were up 12% year-on-year, the national market dipped 6%.

The broadcaster predicted a 5% overall fall in April, although early indicators suggested May would be around 4% up.

Mr Woodward expects an improved summer performance due to the European Football Championships.

He said: "We can't see into June at the moment as it is a very short market but football plays extremely well on STV and in Scotland.

"So we would hope for an uplift from the European Championships, even though we are not competing.

"But we expect the advertising market to continue to be a difficult one."

New websites covering Glasgow and Edinburgh are being launched in the next few weeks to replace the existing STV Local offering in those cities.

The current Aberdeen sites will be converted later this year followed by a Dundee launch.

Mr Woodward said the roll-out of other local sites would also continue.

He said: "We are redefining the way we are covering the metropolitan areas and previously we experimented with splitting the geography across these areas.

"Now we are going to launch very deep, rich sites covering the whole of the metropolitan area. It will encompass news, going out, eating and drinking, people and the conversations taking place in the city."

Chairman Richard Findlay added: "We have made an encouraging start to 2012. During the period, airtime trading, digital business growth and performance against our key performance indicator targets are in line with the board's expectations."

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