STV boss Hain defends station's scheduling policy

Image caption,
STV boss Bobby Hain says the station has the right strategy

Scottish broadcaster STV has defended its move to drop popular ITV network programmes.

Managing Director Bobby Hain insisted ratings were in line with ITV as a whole and that the station's strategy was the right one.

STV has come under attack for its decision to drop ITV1's costume drama Downton Abbey.

Mr Hain, who was answering questions from Radio Times readers, said STV's schedule was "relevant and affordable".

He added that more than 95% of STV's peaktime schedule was made up of ITV network content.

In the past year, STV has dropped ITV drama output including Doc Martin, Marple and Midsomer Murders.

Although Freeview users in Scotland are unable to watch such programmes, those with satellite and cable can view them on ITV1 London.

The company claims its scheduling changes are working, pointing to overall viewing figures which are in line with the rest of the ITV network.

Sketch show

STV said it had increased the amount of Scottish programming - arguing it makes more than the BBC in part because it provides localised news services for different parts of the country.

It added that most episodes of Downton Abbey have been replaced by new episodes of the police drama Taggart which will not be shown in the rest of the UK until next year.

Mr Hain said that STV would love to produce a long-running soap opera again. Its last soap, High Road, ended several years ago.

He also said the broadcaster was making an online sketch show.

It is unclear how many Scots may be watching Downton Abbey on ITV1 London which is shown on Sky 993, Freesat 977 and Virgin 853.

However, figures last year suggested more than 100,000 people were using this method to watch the network dramas which STV decides not to show.

The full question and answer session with Mr Hain is published in the new issue of the Radio Times.

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