A vision for telly
Scottish Television was founded with the observation that it was "a licence to print money".
Not any longer.
It is now much depleted from its grand ambitions to build a major cross-media company based in Glasgow - which once included not only the stv licence and what was Grampian (now stv north), but also the Herald newspaper group, Virgin Radio and a major outdoor billboard business. It still has cinema advertising platform Pearl and Dean.
While it made a colossal mistake over its top price purchase of Virgin Radio, the company has found itself harshly squeezed by the bracing new environment of multiple channels, a downturn in advertising and a row over money with ITV plc.
The English and Welsh commercial broadcaster on Channel 3 provides much of the content for stv, as well as Ulster and Channel Islands television. But it reckons the networking arrangements are out of kilter, and that it "subsidises" its smaller commercial cousins to the tune of £30 million per year.
And if ITV plc doesn't get its way from Ofcom, it has threatened to give up its English and Welsh licences (including Border, which straddles the Scottish-English border), and become a purely commercial broadcaster.
By taking its ball away, it would leave Ofcom struggling to find another company capable of fulfilling its role.
The £30 million figure is disputed, of course. But while the companies are in a stand-off, and stv is overwhelmingly dependent on output from the vastly bigger English broadcaster, its share price has been in real trouble.
There are those who think it would be better if stv plc sold to ITV plc, but there seems little benefit for ITV to do so.
Everyone is agreed the current position can't be sustained, with these companies required to provide public service broadcasting, including their news programmes, but with a falling share of a hard-hit advertising pot from which to fund that.
Today, the regulator Ofcom has said - among many other things about the future of public service broadcasting - that it agrees there has to be an overhaul and it would prefer a negotiated one.
It said Scottish audiences, according to opinion polling, value stv news more than English audiences value their regional news, and that it is important the new model for supporting news programmes continue to provide Scottish and Northern Irish output.
It looks to a longer-term solution of a consortium of providers bidding for funds to run a news service on Channel 3 in Scotland.
It has also told ITV plc that if it is to be allowed to merge Border TV news with Tyne/Tees, there should still be two evening bulletins of south of Scotland news.
While it has ruled out the idea of the licence fee income being top-sliced from the BBC, it is positive about a BBC offer to share its resources with commercial broadcasters.
And it has some interesting responses to the proposal of the Scottish Broadcasting Commission, set up by Alex Salmond, to create a new Scottish digital channel.
It agrees with the SBC that the cost of this could be £75m, but warns the funding will be vital to determining what kind of output we get.
Pointing out that the idea now has consensus support behind it, the regulator puts an interesting challenge to the UK and Scottish Governments to come up with plans for how this might work - raising the notion that the two administrations might have to work together in this fraught political area.
Ofcom comes up with a plan that differs from a conventional channel: "a competitive fund which would support a series of inter-connected initiatives in Scotland-wide television, local television, online and radio", in co-operation with the new Gaelic channel.
The first criteria for this appears to be the idea's greatest weakness - 'discoverability'. If the content is spread so widely, how do you find out what's on and where?
It would give stv more output, though if it is even partly commercially funded, it could also spread the advertising jam more thinly. But while the uncertainty remains, the company continues to look vulnerable in the advertising downturn, and too dependent on its long-standing big earner, Taggart.