STV challenges ITV1 viewers switch claims

image captionSTV said the viewing figures had been misrepresented

Scottish broadcaster STV is challenging viewing figures which appeared to show significant numbers of Scots are watching ITV1 London instead of them.

It comes after ratings firm Attentional said 150,000 Scots watched the drama Downton Abbey in the STV region by switching to ITV1 London on satellite.

It also suggested that thousands of Scots were watching other ITV network programmes not being shown on STV.

STV welcomed other research which suggested this was not the case.

The broadcaster also said it did not recognise the Attentional figures, which were printed in a Sunday newspaper.

STV's director of broadcast services Bobby Hain said the chief executive of official ratings research board Barb had told the company the ratings report was not published directly by them and "appears to be a misinterpretation of the Barb data".

'Strong relationship'

Mr Hain said: "We're delighted that clarification has been provided by Barb on the inaccuracy of these viewing figures.

"Recent coverage of this information stated that STV is set to lose advertising income as a result of our chosen programming strategy when, in actual fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

"STV has a strong relationship with our advertisers and our airtime revenue continues to rise, with quarter three figures (July to September) showing a 10% increase.

"In addition to this, we are improving our audience share position every month with October's share growing year on year."

Attentional claimed more than 40,000 Scots were watching ITV1 London every day and produced specific viewing figures for individual programmes which have been dropped by STV.

ITV1 London's Scottish viewing figures are not readily obtainable but what some claim to be reliable estimates can be made from a complex analysis of the ratings.

For more than a year, STV has dropped the bulk of ITV1 network drama but the station has also increased the number of Scottish programmes it broadcasts.

STV and ITVplc are engaged in a complex legal dispute which is set to go to court next year, with each side suing the other for more than £30m.

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