Scotland business

STV shrugs off Brexit fears as profits rise

TV studio Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption STV will make programmes for ITV2, Sky and the BBC

Broadcaster STV has won new commissions to make programmes for other broadcasters, but fallen short of its target for expanding that division.

The Glasgow-based company saw revenue in the first six months of the year rise by 5% to £56.2m.

Chief executive Rob Woodward said they had seen no impact on advertising from the Brexit vote.

Pre-tax profits were also up by 50% from £6.8m to £10.2m, as the company's debt fell 17% to £29m.

Earnings from digital advertising has been growing at 25% year-on-year, mainly through growth in use of the STV Player View-on-Demand service.

Revenue from national advertising on its television channels was down, and is expected to fall faster in the second half of the year.

A key part of STV's business strategy is to build up its role as a maker of programmes for other broadcasters.

The target for this year is £23m of income from that, but only £3.5m revenue has been secured in the first six months.

Antiques Road Trip

The target for 2018 has been lowered to £20m per year, and on a lower margin.

New commissions for STV Productions include a six-part documentary series for UKTV called The Dressing Room.

Other recent commissions include Safeword - a six-parter for ITV2, a second series on prisons for Sky, two further series of Antiques Road Trip for the BBC and a second series of Stopping Scotland's Scammers for STV.

The Glasgow team has made a documentary on The Queen Mary for BBC4 and Smithsonian, another on wildlife after the Chernobyl disaster, and a four-part series for Channel 5 titled Tour de Celeb.

The broadcaster reported revenues were "flat on a rounded basis" for its city TV stations in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

They are reaching an average 700,000 viewers every month, around 30% of consumers in their broadcast areas.

The company has won three further local licences, in Dundee, Aberdeen and Ayr, for which plans are to be announced soon, with launches early in 2017.

Image copyright Other

That should take the potential reach of the local stations to 80% of Scottish homes.

Rob Woodward, STV's chief executive, said: "These results will be seen as another strong performance".

Asked on the BBC's Good Morning Scotland about changed viewing habits, he replied: "That's why we've invested so much time and energy in building our non-broadcast portfolio of services. Usage of STV player is just shy of 40% of where it was a year ago.

"We now have 40% of the adult population of Scotland now registered with STV. We see our future as being able to compete in that digital non-broadcast landscape."

The media company has faced controversy recently over political commentary on its online news service. It has been alleged that SNP MPs put pressure on editorial bosses to stop journalist Stephen Daisley from writing opinion articles.

Asked about this, Mr Woodward said: "We take our role very seriously when it comes to news reporting and political coverage. Over the past few years, our performance has been exemplary.

"I haven't been put under any political pressure, and to my understanding, none of my colleagues has been put under any political pressure."

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