STV to maintain local news format

Image caption,
STV said its news content would continue in its current format

Broadcaster STV has ruled out making significant changes to its news programmes, ending months of uncertainty for viewers.

The future of STV's news had been in doubt after a Westminster scheme to use TV licence money for regional news on Channel 3 was scrapped.

It meant STV had to meet the cost, leading to fears of significant cutbacks.

However, the station said it planned to continue in its current format.

The broadcaster also said it would sustain a separate programme for the north of Scotland for the "foreseeable future".

Traditionally each ITV station in the UK has met the cost of regional news, subsidising the expense with more profitable parts of the schedule.

STV along with ITVplc, which runs the network in England, the former Border TV region and Wales had argued that this business model was living on "borrowed time".

Distinct service

They pointed out that Channel 3 licences carried costs and responsibilities which were not imposed on other commercial broadcasters.

Labour's solution was to give TV licence money to third parties to produce news programmes to show on Channel 3.

In Scotland, a consortium of newspapers won the contract and had been expected to start producing news to be shown on STV this autumn.

However, the incoming coalition government scrapped the scheme.

Instead, they plan to establish a network of local tv stations across the UK which will not require ongoing public funding.

STV said it expected to see the current format of its news programmes continue in the medium term.

This means that viewers in the former Grampian TV area will continue to receive a distinct service to viewers in the central belt, while dedicated local news segments within the programmes will also continue.

The Channel 3 franchises are due to come up for renegotiation again in 2014.

Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt said at the Edinburgh TV Festival in August that he hoped his planned local news stations would be broadcasting by that point, ending the need to legally oblige Channel 3 franchises to provide a regional news service.

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