Scottish Television

Scottish Television (now legally known as STV Central Ltd and referred to on-air as STV) is Scotland's largest ITV franchisee, and has held the ITV franchise for Central Scotland since 31 August 1957. The studios were initially located in Glasgow's Theatre Royal on Hope Street, and later in custom built premises on an adjacent site on Renfield Street in Cowcaddens, Glasgow, but moving to new studios in Pacific Quay, alongside BBC Scotland and the Glasgow Science Centre in July 2006. The channel is now owned and operated by STV Group plc (formerly SMG plc), which also owns another independent television franchisee, Grampian Television (now STV North), based in Aberdeen.

STV Central produces news for its transmission region along with current affairs, politics and sports programmes (in both English and Gaelic) for Northern and Central Scotland, although some sports output is also broadcast in Border Television's Southern Scotland sub-region. STV Central's main news programme is Scotland Today, and the main sports show is Scotsport, one of the world's longest running sports television programmes. Along with STV North and ITV Border, STV Central is a rival to the publicly-funded national broadcaster, BBC Scotland.

In 2008, the United Kingdom plans to begin its 5-year programme to cease analogue television broadcasts as part of the switchover to Digital television, with STV Central ceasing analogue transmissions between October 2010 an March 2011. It is already transmitting digitally terrestrially from its land-based transmitters, via Sky (Astra) and Freesat (Astra).


The company was founded by a consortium led by Canadian businessman Roy (Later Lord) Thomson and went on-air in 1957, the first ITV franchise to launch outside the three largest regions and thereby the first to operate a full week schedule. The company soon gained a reputation for cheap programming prompting the jibe that STV only had two pieces of equipment - one telecine to show western films and another to show the commercials.

In 1965 the chairman of the Independent Television Authority Charles Hill paid a visit to STV's Glasgow studios during which he observed an edition of the blunt daytime entertainment show One o'clock Gang. So appalled by it he immediately axed the show with the words "My God, how long have you been getting away with this?" .

Although the early days of the ITV network were a financial gamble the service soon became profitable, resulting in Thomson claiming that 'running a commercial television station is like having a licence to print money' .

However by 1969 the company was, like many within the ITV system, struggling with a recession, increased transmitter rental fees and taxation on income (rather than profits) as a result of the Pilkington Committee review into ITV. The situation hit STV harder than most and by 1970 was making significant losses.

The conversion of the Gateway Theatre at Leith Walk in Edinburgh into new colour studios also saw a drain on finances. This facility grew in importance in 1969 after a fire gutted Studio A (the Theatre Royal auditorium) which was one of the main studios and production suites at the Cowcaddens site, a fire in which two firemen died. The site was subsequently modified and extended with new colour facilities built, which became fully operational in 1973. The company cited necessary cost savings as its reason to give up the Gateway (which for a time had become the permanent studio home for 'High Road'), and the studio's were subsequently closed around the early 1990s.

By this time a change in taxation rules and a general increase in advertising spend saw STV's fortunes recover. In the following twenty years the company gained greater access to the national network, primarily through the soap opera Take the High Road and the long-running detective series Taggart. Recent contributions have included the quiz Wheel of Fortune and the adaptation of the Rebus crime books.

In late 1992 Scottish Television took over responsibility for a number of children's programmes made by independent producers for the outgoing ITV company TVS including the shows Art Attack and How 2.

In 2006 the company moved to new facilities at Pacific Quay. The Cowcaddens site was sold and leaving the original Theatre Royal building as one of Glasgow's premier arts venues, the 1960 and 1970 extension were demolished. The 1990 extension which was the (then) sister companies of the The Herald and Glasgow Evening Times newspapers still stands, but is no longer connected to STV having been sold off to the Newsquest publishing group.


A list of programmes made by Scottish Television. All networked programmes now come under the banner of SMG Productions.


Current Affairs

  • Platform (1996-2004)
  • Politics Now (co-produced with STV North, 2004-present)
  • Scotland Today Reports (latterly Scotland Today Special)
  • The Scottish 500
  • Seven Days
  • Sunday Live (2006)
  • Ways and Means
  • The Week in Politics


Features and Documentaries



  • High Living (1970-1974)
  • Garnock Way (1976-1979)
  • High Times (2004, 2008)
  • New Found Land (co-produced with Grampian Television)
  • New Found Films (co-produced with Grampian Television)
  • Rebus (2000 - present)
  • Taggart (1983 - present)
  • Take the High Road (1980 - 2003)



  • Morning Worship (contributions for the ITV network)
  • Eikon
  • Secret Scotland
  • Seek the Truth
  • Sunday Service

Scots Gaelic

  • Air An Urlar (Music)
  • Air A Bhord (Features)
  • 1 2 Stri (Children's)
  • Carlas (Features)
  • Failte (Features)
  • Iomall nan Tonn (Documentary)
  • Nochd Gun Chadal (Music)

Channel changes

On 2 March 2006, it was announced by SMG plc (now STV Group plc) that Scottish Television would revert back to its original brand name of STV, from the start of colour broadcasting in 1969 until 30 August 1985, and which the station was still informally known as in parts of Scotland. At the same time, Grampian TV would also become known as STV. The new-look branding was launched on 30 May 2006.

Regional news and advertising has remained segmented with viewers in the East of the region receiving their own opt-out version of STV Central, including a dedicated news bulletin within Scotland Today on weekdays and separate local advertising. Former managing director of Scottish, Bobby Hain is now the managing director for both STV regions. Scottish TV's head of news, Gordon MacMillan, has now become STV's head of news across Scotland, following the departure of Craig Wilson from STV North (Grampian).


External links

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