The lavish £3m TV film, adapted by Bafta award-winning screenwriter Peter Bowker and billed as one of the jewels in the ITV autumn season crown, is to be shown in two parts on August 30 and 31 throughout the ITV network – except in Scotland, where it is to be replaced by Sirens, a seven-year-old made-for-TV drama starring Daniela Nardini.

ITV and STV have been in dispute after the UK public service broadcaster accused the Scottish media company of failing to pay a £22m fee for being part of the ITV network. The allegation, disputed by STV, has come as the Scottish broadcaster has opted out of a number of series.

STV has said it has been looking to bring in more home-grown content to its schedule. While that is more cost-efficient, STV says it also caters for Scottish viewers who want more Scottish programmes.

STV has already opted out of ITV’s coverage of the FA Cup, top police drama The Bill, Midsomer Murders, Kingdom, the Norfolk-based series featuring Stephen Fry, and Al Murray’s Happy Hour.

It is estimated that opting out of Wuthering Heights will save the broadcaster more than £100,000.

But some observers say there has been no resurrection of the STV of the 1970s and 80s, when it was synonymous with Late Call, the religious programme parodied by Rikki Fulton, Weir’s Way and Thingummyjig, the ceilidh variety show.

Viewers have complained overabout the axing of The Bill and other popular shows. In March, The Herald reported that fears had been expressed over the future of the long-running detective series Taggart after ITV announced plans to cut its budget by £65m and 600 jobs.

One viewer said: “Once again we are being punished for living in Scotland. To make matters worse in the Radio Times there is a two- page article extolling the virturees of the new-look Bill with a small note saying “not in Scotland”.

One Scottish media expert said: “They claim they are dropping all the dramas to put on Scottish programmes instead, but I think that it is purely economics. It is just about saving the money it costs to show a network drama.

“What STV is trying to do is withhold the money from the network. If it drops the programme it doesn’t have to pay its share of the cost of the production.

“It is reckoned that when they don’t show a drama which would typically cost between £500,000 and £700,000 an hour, STV is saving something like £30,000 to £40,000 by not showing it.

An Ofcom report earlier this month revealed that the BBC and STV cut spending on programmes in Scotland by £13million last year – the largest drop across the UK.

Spending dropped by 20% to £54m last year for programmes for viewers in Scotland, including an £11m reduction on areas including comedies and dramas and less spent on news. Spending on current affairs increased in Scotland by £2m, or 72%.

In June STV said that its regional advertising revenues declined by 12% in the second quarter of the year, an improvement on the 19% decline for the half year and better than ITV’s 19% second quarter decline.

However, STV also revealed that it is facing losses of up to £200,000 following the collapse of Setanta, which used some of its facilities to produce football coverage.

Wuthering Heights stars Tom Hardy as Heathcliff and Sarah Lancashire. It is produced by Mammoth Screen and supported by Screen Yorkshire, the organisation that which promotes film-making in the region

A spokeswoman for STV said its programming strategy involves taking greater control of its schedule. She added that although they are proud to be part of the network, STV is “equally committed” to investing in qualityScottish shows and creating a diverse schedule.

“We have an ongoing working relationship with ITV through which we deal with any issues affecting both our businesses. We want to establish a new working relationship with ITV and redefine the Channel 3 network arrangements,” added the spokeswoman.