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STV North (2006-)
Grampian Television (1961-2006)
STV logo.svg
Based in Aberdeen
Broadcast area Northern Scotland
Launched 30 September 1961
Gramp1.jpg
Grampian Television logo, late 1990s
Closed lost on-air identity on 30 May 2006
(rebranded as STV along with Scottish Television)
Website stv.tv
Owned by STV Group plc

Grampian Television (now legally known as STV North Ltd and referred to on-air as STV) is the ITV franchisee for the North and North East of Scotland. Its coverage area includes the Scottish Highlands (except Fort William and Lochaber which have always received STV), Inverness, Aberdeen, Dundee and parts of north Fife. The station has been in operation since 30 September 1961.

STV North is owned and operated by STV Group plc (formerly SMG plc), which also owns another Scottish ITV franchise, Scottish Television (now known as STV Central on-air), based in Glasgow and serving Central Scotland.

STV North's regional news programme for Northern Scotland is called STV News at Six and is supplemented by short news bulletins seven days a week and a weekly review programme for the deaf and hard of hearing. The station also produces a regular online video blog entitled Northern Exposure and regional television commercials, as well as some features and reports for Politics Now.

The station no longer produces any non-news regional programming in-house. Programmes commissioned as STV North local programming (such as Highlands, Conquer the Castle and Nick Hancock's Fishing School) are now produced by either STV Productions in Glasgow or other independent production companies. All of STV's Gaelic-language programming is now produced from Glasgow.

Both STV North and STV Central, together with their counterpart UTV in Northern Ireland, have resisted adopting the generic ITV1 branding that is now commonplace throughout regions in England, Wales and Southern Scotland that are owned by ITV plc.

In 2008, the United Kingdom began its 5-year programme to cease analogue television broadcasts as part of the switchover to digital television, with the eight transmitters covering the STV North region (Angus, Rosemarkie, Knockmore, Eitshal, Durris, Bressay, Rumster Forest and Keelylang Hill) switching over from May to October 2010.

Contents

History

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Foundation period

Applications for the new North East Scotland contract area were sought by the Independent Television Authority in the spring of 1960. From the original seven applicants, three serious contenders emerged and the contract was awarded in August 1960 to North of Scotland Television Limited on the provision that board positions were offered to the other two final applicants, Caledonian Television and North Caledonian Television. The company's first managing director was G E Ward Thomas who went on to establish Yorkshire Television in 1968.

The name North of Scotland TV was considered too cumbersome for use and to reflect the input of the other applicants, a new name was chosen on 11 January 1961 - "Grampian Television".

A former tram depot belonging to Aberdeen Corporation Tramways at Queens Cross, Aberdeen was purchased at the end of 1960 and was scheduled to be converted to studios by the planned launch date of 1 October 1961. A newsroom would also be opened in Dundee around the same time. However, four months prior to launch, the Post Office announced that the links which would connect Grampian to the network would not be ready until February 1962. This would have left the new station only able to broadcast output from its neighbouring colleagues at Scottish Television (STV). Pressure at the highest level of Government ensured that the links were in place in time for the station's planned launch.

Opening day

Grampian Television went on air on Saturday 30 September 1961 at 2:45pm with the opening authority announcement from continuity announcer Douglas Kynoch and a brief welcome from the chairman of the Independent Television Authority, Sir Ivonne Kirkpatrick:

Douglas Kynoch:
Good afternoon. This is the first transmission of Grampian Television Limited, over the Durris and Mounteagle transmitters of the Independent Television Authority. Today, we're about to join all the millions of viewers of the Independent Television network and we're very glad to have in our studios, to switch us into the network, the chairman of the Independent Television Authority, Sir Ivonne Kirkpatrick.

Sir Ivonne Kirkpatrick:
Good afternoon. I am glad to be in Aberdeen today to welcome you into the great family of Independent Television viewers. You now have your own television company in the North East and I hope that you'll very soon come to regard Grampian Television as an essential part of your everyday life. I wish you and Grampian the best of luck and now, let us join the network.

Following the brief opening, the station handed over to Tyne Tees Television's networked coverage of Racing from Catterick Bridge. Later in the opening day at 7pm, Grampian's first chairman, Sir Alexander B. King, presented a half-hour introductory programme about the station. At the time of launch, Grampian served a potential audience of 332,000 people in 98,000 homes.

Early years on air

In its first year, Grampian produced nine regular regional programmes - namely News and Views (a thrice-weekly magazine programme), Country Focus, Women's World, Serenade, Scotland for Me, Points North (a long-running current affairs programme), Grampian Golf, local news bulletins and monthly church services.

In the early days, Grampian struggled as viewers in a key part of its transmission area, the city of Dundee, were still tuning into coverage from STV via the strong signal of the Black Hill transmitter. Three months after its first transmission, the station was only attracting 13% of the available audience in Dundee while viewing audiences across the region turned out to be less than had been hoped for. Viewer correspondence was said to amount to little more than half a dozen letters per week.

The problems in Dundee along with the effects of Television Advertising Duty and the Equity Strike led to heavy financial losses and a subsequent reduction in transmitter rental for Grampian. But by the end of 1962, the station had succeeded in increasing audience in both Dundee and the region as a whole. The success in viewing figures were attributed to an increase in regional programming. Whereas Grampian had previously restricted its output to news and current affairs beforehand, production controller James Buchan decided to go for broke and branch out to produce light entertainment and music shows (originally, at the rate of four programmes a week) - such output would remain a staple of the station's local output for the next forty years or so. By 1963, no less than fifty Grampian shows had featured in the local Top Ten audience ratings.

Towards the end of the decade, the station's potential audience reached a million viewers and Grampian was employing just over 200 staff at their studios in Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh (the Edinburgh studios were closed in 1969 after only a few years in operation). Prior to the 1968 contract round, smaller regional stations sought an affiliation with one of the four major ITV companies, who would provide the bulk of their programming. Grampian chose to link up with ABC Weekend Television.[1]

Technological advances

Grampian was slower than most other ITV stations to begin colour broadcasting which, after the company invested £180,000 (2009: £1.92m) in new equipment, promptly started in September 1971 - an occasion timed to mark their 10th anniversary on air. Despite this, the station did come up with a number of technical firsts. Most notable of these came in 1978 when Grampian became the first British television station to adopt ENG video cameras for news coverage - a move which finally allowed its regional news programme, Grampian Today, to extend from three to five nights a week.

Other technological advances came with the opening of remote-controlled studios at Albany House in Dundee (1980) & Huntly Street in Inverness (1983) along with £4 million worth (2009: £10.5m) of investment into a new Central Technical Area and presentation facilities at Grampian's Queens Cross headquarters during the early 1980s. Grampian also developed its own outside broadcast unit, initially using studio equipment. By the early 1990s, a new £4 million studio complex in Stornoway had been opened to facilitate an expansion in Scottish Gaelic language output - one of the main productions from the Stornoway studios was the daily news bulletin Telefios - which ran for seven years until 2000. The studios were closed shortly afterwards.

In June 2003, Grampian broke further technological ground when the station moved into new smaller studios in West Tullos, Aberdeen - at the time of opening, one of the most state-of-the-art television studios in the world.

The franchise rounds

Following the station's earlier troubles, Grampian Television, along with all other ITV companies at the time, won a three-year extension to their licence (later extended by a further year) in 1964. In 1967, they went unopposed by any other consortiums to win a further six-year contract from July 1968 - a contract expanded by a further eight years in 1974.

Six years later, Grampian won another eight-year franchise (later extended to ten years), effective of January 1982. The only change made to the licence was the classification of the franchise as North and North East Scotland, as opposed to North East Scotland - a change which the station had already capitalised upon in January 1980 when Grampian Today was relaunched as North Tonight as part of a major expansion for Grampian's news operation.

The Broadcasting Act of 1990 led to a significant change in the way ITV franchises were awarded - as opposed to the straightforward review process utilised by the outgoing Independent Broadcasting Authority, the new light-touch regulator, the Independent Television Commission, required that the successful applicant pass a quality threshold and business plan. In the event, Grampian was outbid by two challengers; Channel 3 Caledonia and North of Scotland Television (ironically the name of the original Grampian Television consortium). Both competitors failed to pass the quality threshold and Grampian won back the franchise by default with a bid of £720,000 per year.

Networked production

By encouragement of the IBA, Grampian and other small ITV companies were encouraged to produce more network output following the 1980 franchise round. The station had previously produced a small number of networked or part-networked productions including the daytime adult education series Katie Stewart Cooks and light entertainment show Melody Inn.

In the franchise period following, the station was commissioned to produce networked series of the previously local film magazine programme The Electric Theatre Show (following a successful run on London Weekend Television) alongside new series including occasional variety series Magic of the Musicals, lifestyle series Pennywise & Hot Property, networked one-off documentaries such as A Prince Among Islands and children's cartoon series James the Cat. The station also produced various editions of several series co-produced by most ITV regions - namely the religious programme Highway, current affairs debate The Time, The Place, documentary strand About Britain and the Saturday morning children's shows Get Fresh & Ghost Train.

Grampian also contributed to Channel 4 in the form of various documentary series including Oil (co-produced with NRK), The Blood is Strong, Alternative Energy and Scotland the Grave. The long-running schools programme Living & Growing was transferred from ITV to Channel 4 in September 1987.

Grampian's later networked contributions amounted to very little, with the few exceptions including co-production of The National Television Awards from 1996 to 1998 and a daytime repeat run of local documentary series Medics of the Glen in 2004.

SMG buyout

Grampian remained independent until June 1997 when Scottish Media Group (SMG) bought the station for £105 million.[2].

The buyout led to various scalebacks in staff and overall production at the station - notable changes included the transfer of presentation & continuity from Aberdeen to Scottish Television's playout centre in Glasgow. More Grampian-produced programmes were also broadcast on Scottish, and vice versa. The station was also criticised by the Independent Television Commission concerning the amount and relevance of its non-news regional output with more and more programming being produced from outside the region, chiefly in Glasgow - production on such output was gradually phased out with the station's final non-news programme broadcast in 2008.

In June 2003, the company moved to new premises at Craigshaw Business Park in West Tullos, Aberdeen and the original headquarters at Queens Cross were subsequently demolished, becoming home to a development of luxury flats.

From Grampian to STV North

In March 2006, the owners of Grampian Television, then known as SMG plc (now STV Group plc) announced that the Grampian TV brand would be scrapped and renamed, along with Scottish TV, as simply 'STV', with a new logo comprising a large, stylised letter 'S'. It was also announced that no jobs would be lost as a result of the rebranding. The two regional news programmes in the Northern and Central Scotland regions (previously known as North Tonight and Scotland Today respectively) were still broadcast in their respective regions after the "stv" rebranding, which occurred at 9:25am on Tuesday 30 May 2006. Both North Tonight and Scotland Today were rebranded as STV News at Six on Monday 23 March 2009 but continue to air as separate programmes.

The decision to rebrand Grampian was met with much criticism from across the former Grampian region - the move was viewed by many as similar to the ITV plc-owned licences in England, Wales and Southern Scotland where all of the regions are branded as ITV1. The objections are largely due to the fact that the largely rural Scottish culture in the North is very different from the more commercial and industrialised Central Scotland area.

The news service and advertising remains regionalised as before with the Tayside and North East Fife area receiving its own opt-out service, featuring a dedicated news bulletin within STV News at Six on weekdays and separate local advertising.

As of 3 December 2007, the former Grampian name was partially resurrected at the launch of GMTV Grampian, a local news segment for North Scotland shown as part of GMTV and is provided by Macmillan Media, a separate company with no connection to STV. It took over the contract when GMTV did not renew STV's contract to supply early morning Scotland Today and North Today bulletins. STV had supplied GMTV with its news since the breakfast channel took over from TV-am in 1993. From its Glasgow studios, Macmillan Media began its service for the Grampian region on 3 December 2007.

On 17 September 2009, STV announced proposals to overhaul its regional news service. Under the plans, subject to award of public subsidy and approval by the broadcasting regulator OFCOM, the nightly STV News at Six would be extended to hour (incorporating national and international news from ITN) and broadcast as a pan-regional programme from Glasgow, bringing the current arrangement of a separate news service for Northern Scotland to an end.[3] The plan would also see a third news and advertising sub-region introduced to cover the Highlands and Islands. Opt-outs for the North East and Tayside & North East Fife would also be maintained and extended in length to ten minutes.[4]

Programmes

Programming produced by Grampian Television (STV North) over the past 47 years include:

News

  • Grampian Headlines (1988–2003)
  • Grampian News (2002–2006)
  • Grampian Today (mid 1970s - 1980)
  • News and Views (1961 - mid 1970s)
  • News Review (early 1990s - present)
  • North News (lunchtime bulletin, 1980–1988)
  • North Headlines (late night bulletin, 1980–1987)
  • North Today (2006–2009)
  • North Tonight (1980–2009)
  • STV News at Six (2009–present)

Current Affairs

  • The Buck Stops Here
  • Craig Millar Reports (latterly The Craig Millar Files, 2003–2004)
  • Country Focus
  • Crossfire (1984–2004)
  • Grampian Week
  • Inquisition
  • North Tonight Special
  • One Life to Live
  • Personal View
  • Points North (1961–1984)
  • Politics Now (co-produced with STV Central, 2004–present)
  • Scottish Questions
  • We The Jury

Documentaries

  • The A9 Mystery (1978)
  • About Britain (contributions for the ITV network)
  • Beyond Explanation
  • The Big Beat
  • Black Water, Bright Hope
  • The Blood is Strong (for Channel Four, late 1980s)
  • Blowout at Bravo (1977)
  • Columba's Way (1972)
  • Commando (1983)
  • Cop College
  • A Day in the Life
  • Elizabeth of Glamis (1985)
  • The Energy Alternative (for Channel Four, 1990)
  • Export Scotch (1982)
  • A Glen for All Seasons (1997)
  • The Glovers of Nagasaki (co-produced with Fuji TV, 1995)
  • Highlands (produced by STV Productions, 2008)
  • Home at Last (1989)
  • Hot Property (for the ITV network)
  • Last of the Hunters (1987)
  • The Man Who Changed the World (1986)
  • The Masterbuilders
  • Medics of the Glen (also broadcast on the ITV network)
  • Network First (contributions for the ITV network, mid - late 1990s)
  • Nick Hancock's Fishing School (produced by STV Productions, 2007)
  • Northern Eye
  • Oil (co-produced with NRK for Channel Four, 1986)
  • On The Road Again (1984)
  • Picnic at Whitehill (1986)
  • Place in the Sun (1981)
  • A Prince Among Islands (for the ITV network, 1992)
  • The River
  • Seeing Scotland
  • Scotland the Grave (for Channel Four, 1991)
  • Scotland's Larder (early - late 1990s)
  • Selina Scott Meets
  • Storm on the Mountain (for Channel Four, 1988)
  • This Scotland (co-produced with Scottish Television)
  • To Russia with Burns (1978)
  • Two of a Kind
  • Unsolved (2003-4)
  • Valhalla
  • Walking Back to Happiness
  • What Price Oil? (1973)
  • The Woman Who Ate Scotland (2006–2007)
  • A Year in Spain: Selina Scott with the Spanish Royal Family (for the ITV network, 1993)

Features

  • Breakthrough
  • Country Matters
  • Desert Island Chefs
  • The Electric Theatre Show (for the ITV network, 1976 - mid 1980s)
  • The Five Thirty Show (co-produced with STV Central, 2008–2009)
  • Fix It
  • Get Real
  • The Grampian Garden (1963–1980)
  • Grampian Midweek (2000–2003)
  • Grampian Weekend
  • The Great Outdoors
  • Grow for It
  • Movie Date
  • Naturally Scottish
  • Northern Exposure (for stv.tv, 2007–present)
  • Northern Exposure: Ask Kirstin (for stv.tv, 2007–present)
  • Off The Wall (2004)
  • Out and About (late 1980s)
  • Pennywise (for the ITV network, 1980s)
  • The People Show
  • Put It in Writing
  • Rich, Gifted and Scots (co-produced with Scottish Television)
  • Rude Health
  • The Scottish Tourism Supreme Awards
  • Spend, Spend, Spend
  • Sign a Story
  • Summer at Six
  • Under The Hammer (1997–1999, co-produced with Scottish Television)
  • The Way It Was
  • Wednesday People

Entertainment

  • Andy's Party
  • The Art Sutter Show
  • Aye Yours
  • At Home with Kenneth McKellar
  • Bothy Nichts
  • Breakers
  • Calum's Ceilidh
  • Cairngorm Cabaret
  • Cairngorm Ski Night
  • Ceilidh on the Caledonian Canal
  • Chartburn
  • A Highland Hogmanay
  • Come Aboard
  • Country and Irish
  • Club Cupid (co-produced with STV Central, 2006)
  • Conquer the Castle (produced by STV Productions, 2008)
  • The Entertainers
  • First Light
  • Ingle Neuk
  • It's George
  • ITV Telethon (local and networked contributions, 1988, 1990, 1992)
  • The Jim Macleod
  • McCue's Music
  • Magic of the Musical
  • Melody Inn (part networked)
  • The National Television Awards (for the ITV network, 1996–1998)
  • Northern Nights
  • Pick of the North
  • Pop Scotch
  • The Royal Clansmen
  • Runrig on the Rock
  • Random Choice
  • Scotland The What
  • Shammy Dab
  • Silver City Folk
  • Stritcly Scottish
  • A Touch of Music
  • Talking Loud
  • Top Club (1971–1998)
  • The Video Show (1985)
  • Video Jukebox (1987)
  • Welcome to the Ceilidh
  • Win a Word
  • You'd Better Believe It! (1990)

Children's

  • The Birthday Spot
  • Furry Tales (2001)
  • Get Fresh (contributions for the ITV network, 1986–1988)
  • Ghost Train (contributions for the ITV network, 1989–1992)
  • Isla's Island
  • James the Cat (for the ITV network) (1984–1986)
  • Junior Try for Ten (1967–1969)
  • High Time
  • Pick A Number (1987–1996)
  • Romper Room
  • Rumblie Jumblie
  • Ron & Friends (mid - late 1970s)
  • Seamus
  • Scene on Saturday (mid 1970s - early 1980s)
  • Superbox (early 1980s)
  • Top Team
  • Wize Up (1996–1997)
  • Zoom! (early - mid 1970s)

Sport

  • The Back Page
  • Grampian Sheepdog Trials (also broadcast on the ITV network and Channel 4, early 1980s - mid 1990s)
  • Pure Strength
  • The Scottish Golf Show (2005)

Outside broadcast coverage of various sports including league football, cross country, lawn bowls, shinty, professional wrestling (for the ITV network's World of Sport), marathons, cycling, exhibition tennis, international amateur boxing, curling, triathlon and mountain bike racing.

Education

  • Bits 'n' Pieces
  • Do It Herself (1982)
  • Gather Round
  • Living and Growing (1966–1995)
  • Let's Make It
  • Mathman
  • Play Better Squash (1983)
  • Simply Sewing
  • Our Police
  • Your Health

Religion

  • Evening Worship
  • First Thing
  • Highway (contributions for the ITV network, 1983–1993)
  • In Good Faith
  • Morning Worship (contributions for the ITV network)
  • Reflections
  • Studio Service
  • Testimony
  • A Working Faith (1983)

Scots Gaelic

  • Ceol na Fidhle (Traditional music)
  • Comhla Rinn (Chat show)
  • Crann Tara (Current affairs/features)
  • Cuir Car (Children's)
  • Deanamaid Gairdeachar
  • Failte (Features)
  • Fionnan Feior (Documentaries)
  • Le Durach (Gaelic version of The Birthday Spot)
  • Nochd Gun Chadal (Contemporary music)
  • Seall (Documentaries)
  • Sechd Laithean (Current affairs)
  • Spors (Sport)
  • Telefios (Regional news, 1993–2000)
  • Telefios na Seachduinn (News review, 1993–2000)

References

  1. ^ Grampian
  2. ^ Scottish Media buys Grampian for 105m pounds, Cathy Newman, The Independent, 11 June 1997
  3. ^ Major changes in pipeline at STV, BBC News, 17 September 2009
  4. ^ STV to drop ITV1 6.30pm news, mediaguardian.co.uk, 17 September 2009

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