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STV Group plc

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STV Group plc
TypePublic (LSE: STVG)
(as Scottish Television plc)
HeadquartersGlasgow, Scotland, UK
Key peopleRob Woodward (CEO);
Richard Findlay (Chairman)[1]
ProductsTelevision, Internet,
Revenue£111.2 million (2008)[2]
Operating income £6.8 million (2008)[2]
Profit (£27.4 million) (2008)[2]
Employees600 (2008)[2]
SMG's last logo before rebrand

STV Group plc is a Scottish media company. Originally formed as Scottish Television, it changed its name to Scottish Media Group in 1996 when it acquired Caledonian Publishing, owners of Glasgow-based newspapers The Herald and Evening Times (both of which have since been sold). It then went on to acquire the ITV license holder for Northern Scotland, Grampian Television in 1997. In 1999 it launched a new Sunday broadsheet newspaper, the Sunday Herald. The company renamed itself again as "SMG plc" in 2000 by which time it had expanded further through the acquisitions of Primesight (outdoor advertising), Pearl & Dean (cinema advertising) and Ginger Media Group, which included Ginger Television and the UK radio station, Virgin Radio. In recent years the group has contracted again, having sold the outdoor advertising and radio businesses in order to reduce debt and concentrate on television.[3]

On June 24, 2008, shortly after the sale of Virgin Radio, SMG plc announced another name change - this time to STV Group plc. The company says the name change is to highlight its renewed focus on television, encompassing the STV Central and STV North franchises and the company's production business.[4]The new STV Group branding was introduced on 1 October 2008.[5]

ITV plc held a 16.9% stake in the business, which was reduced to around 5.5% following a rights issue.




STV Group plc owns two Scottish ITV licences, Scottish Television, which covers Central Scotland, and Grampian Television, covering Northern Scotland.

On 2 March 2006, it was announced that Scottish Television would revert to using its former brand name of "STV", which it previously used from the start of colour broadcasting in 1969 until 30 August 1985, and which the station is still informally known as in parts of Scotland. Scottish Television became known as STV Central. At the same time, Grampian Television would also become known as STV North, with the one main identity of STV serving the two licences. The rebrand took place on 30 May 2006. The stations are the most popular peak-time stations in the region and broadcast a mix of network shows such as Coronation Street and The X Factor and imported output including Fitz, Proof and South Park alongside local programming such as STV News at Six, The Hour & Politics Now.

Other channels

The former SMG plc ran its own digital channel, S2, throughout the Scottish and Grampian ITV regions. S2, which aired on the Digital Terrestrial platform, was launched April 30, 1999 and replaced with ITV2 just over two years later - as part of a deal with ITV Digital - on 27 July 2001.[6]

Sky Scottish was a satellite television channel operating on the analogue Sky TV service between 1 November 1996 and 31 May 1998. The service was a joint venture between British Sky Broadcasting and the Scottish Media Group. It initially broadcast between 6.00pm and 8.00pm in Scotland. The channel was closed due to poor ratings.

STV Productions

STV Productions (renamed from SMG Productions on 1 October 2008) is the network television production arm of STV Group plc. With bases in Glasgow and London, its output includes drama, factual/factual entertainment, entertainment and children’s programming. With a client list that includes all the UK terrestrial networks as well as the major satellite and cable channels, the company is one of the key programme suppliers to the UK television market.

Ginger Productions

Ginger Productions, alongside STV Productions, is part of the network production arm of STV Group plc. Based in Waterhouse Square in London, its output focuses on Entertainment and Factual Entertainment.

Ginger was acquired as part of SMG's acquisition of the Ginger Media Group in 1999.


Up until May 2008, the company owned Virgin Radio, a British commercial music radio station based in London.

Virgin Radio was launched as 'Virgin 1215' nationally on 1215 kHz (although some regional transmitters used other frequencies) at 12.15pm on 30 April 1993 by Richard Branson as part of his Virgin brand. It has since been sold to Ginger Media (which was subsequently bought by SMG plc) but has kept the Virgin name.

On 12 April 2007, it was announced that SMG planned to sell Virgin Radio, to enable the company to focus on its television station, STV.[7]. Virgin Radio was finally sold to a group led by The Times of India for £53million on the 30 May 2008.[3]


STV Group plc own cinema advertiser Pearl & Dean, whose rival Digital Cinema Media was owned by ITV plc when it was known as Carlton Screen Advertising.

They formerly owned outdoor billboard advertiser Primesight.

In 2006, SMG plc announced it plans to sell off Pearl & Dean and Primesight.[8]

In August 2007, SMG finally sold Primesight for up to £62m to a private equity firm.[9][10] SMG said in a statement that the price GMT Communications Partners is paying represents a "clear uplift" on offers previously received for Primesight.[11] Primesight have been prosecuted a number of times for the display of advertisements without consent which is an offence under UK Planning Acts.[12][13] The lack of consent for many of Primesight's displays is said to have reduced the selling price by up to £30 million.[14]



The URL stv.tv is the address of the main website of STV. The website currently offers News, Sport, Weather, Entertainment, Competitions, Bingo, Romance, and STV programme information, and TV listings. The STV News teams also produce three exclusive video blogs for the website - The Real MacKay, Northern Exposure and Weather Blether.


STV Player is the video section of the main stv.tv website. It offers catchup of regular STV programming, along with archive STV programmes and exclusive videos.


STV have invested in the world-class technology and development and through the combined resources of television and the web, STV will be able to target over 4 million Scots per week with an advertising reach that covers 99.7% of the entire population of Scotland. Unfortunately advertising for jobs is hard to come by since STV began their Opt-Out policy with many large employers ignoring STV who are showing cheap, niche market programs instead of the National award winning programs offered by ITV (and which have naturally more viewers than those offered by STV)

With key features including standard and premium job postings, recruiter micro-sites, candidate profile database, CV creator, careers advice and email campaigns, stvjobs.com introduces a new world-class service to both advertisers and job seekers.


STV Group operates a broadband television service Scotlandontv.tv. The service was launched in the autumn of 2006 and includes a mix of specially-produced videos and archive programming.

The Glasgow-based media company said the online channel would make use of a back catalogue stretching back 50 years.


STV supports two online Bingo websites:

  • stvbingo.tv (promoted as stv.tv/bingo) launched in 2006, and is run in partnership with CashCade;
  • BingoMood.com was created in 2009 by JackpotJoy.com, and is billed as BingoMood.com from STV.


STV Group headquarters in Glasgow.
STV studios in Aberdeen.

STV Group's headquarters in Glasgow were located on Renfield Street in Cowcaddens, Glasgow since Scottish Television's launch in 1957, but moved to new studios in Pacific Quay, a development situated next to the River Clyde, in July 2006, alongside BBC Scotland's new studios and the Glasgow Science Centre. STV Group's Aberdeen studios moved to a new purpose-built site in the city's Tullos area in 2003, from their previous location (a converted tram shed), which they occupied since Grampian launched in 1961.[15]

STV also has studios in Edinburgh, Dundee and Inverness providing regional news coverage in their particular area.

Relationship with ITV plc

STV Group plc has had a turbulent relationship with ITV plc and both Carlton and Granada, the predecessor companies that merged to create it. ITV plc owns the ITV franchises in England, Wales and the Scottish Borders and operates a number of digital channels and websites under the ITV brand. The company threatened to take legal action over the use of the name 'ITV' because it is the name of the Independent Television network, which STV Central and STV North are both part of. One of the problems facing the group is that ITV is the senior partner when it comes to its two TV stations, since London-based ITV effectively controls most of the scheduling and is also responsible for selling STV's advertising airtime. Rumours persist of a possible takeover of STV Group plc by ITV plc (see below).

In September 2009, ITV plc announced it was to launch legal proceedings against STV for a quoted unpaid debt of £38 million from network programming contributions, following STV's practice of dropping a number of network programmes on the STV franchise. At the same time, STV claimed it is also following procedures against ITV plc, for up to £40 million owed to STV under its advertising sales agreements.[16]

Merger proposals

In September 2006, the then-known SMG officially rejected a merger offer from Northern Irish ITV franchise holder UTV. The merger approach from would have given SMG shareholders a 52% stake in the combined company. The Scottish group said its board had examined a revised merger proposal from UTV, but did not believe it reflected the value of the company.[17]

ITV is considering making an offer for STV Group, according to the Mail on Sunday. The newspaper quoted an ITV source as saying John Cresswell, acting chief executive at the broadcaster, was most interested in the group's television franchises but that any deal would be for the whole group, including Virgin Radio, which SMG also owns. An ITV spokesman declined to comment on the report.
SMG said earlier in the month that its 2006 profit would be materially behind expectations, sending its shares down more than a quarter in value to a 15-year low.[18]

On January 10, 2007, SMG and Belfast-domiciled UTV agreed the details of their merger, including a revised share split between the two. UTV, would own 54% of the group. SMG would take the remaining 46%.[19]

This merger was finally rejected at the end of February, and a new board and management were introduced at SMG shortly afterwards. The company announced plans to concentrate on its core TV business, floating off Virgin Radio and selling Pearl & Dean and Primesight.


  1. ^ "Changes to the board of directors of SMG plc". London Stock Exchange. 28 February 2007. http://www.londonstockexchange.com/LSECWS/IFSPages/MarketNewsPopup.aspx?id=1424489&source=RNS. Retrieved 2007-03-07. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Annual Report 2008". STV Group. http://www.stvplc.tv/content/mediaassets/doc/stv%20group%20plc%20annual%20report%202008.pdf. Retrieved 2009-04-11. 
  3. ^ a b "Virgin Radio sold to Indian group". BBC News. 31 May 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/7429193.stm. Retrieved 2008-05-31. 
  4. ^ "SMG reborn as stv Group". guardian.co.uk. 24 June 2008. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/jun/24/mediabusiness.television?gusrc=rss&feed=media. Retrieved 2008-06-24. 
  5. ^ "Goodbye SMG... Hello STV Group". BroadcastNow. 1 October 2008. http://www.broadcastnow.co.uk/news/2008/10/goodbye_smg_hello_stv_group.html. Retrieved 2008-10-02. 
  6. ^ "S2 dropped for ITV2". Digital Spy. 27 July 2001. http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/digitaltv/a3459/s2-dropped-for-itv2.html. Retrieved 2007-08-31. 
  7. ^ "SMG strategy was 'flawed'". MediaGuardian. 12 April 2001. http://media.guardian.co.uk/city/story/0,,2055432,00.html. Retrieved 2007-08-31. 
  8. ^ "SMG Announces Sale of Cinema and Outdoor Businesses". London Stock Exchange. 13 September 2006. http://www.londonstockexchange.com/LSECWS/IFSPages/MarketNewsPopup.aspx?id=1297276&source=RNS. Retrieved 2007-03-07. 
  9. ^ "Primesight set to be sold". AOL Money. 27 June 2007. http://money.aol.co.uk/primesight-set-to-be-sold/article/20070627031109990001. Retrieved 2007-11-27. 
  10. ^ "SMG to spin off Virgin Radio as earnings fall". Edinburgh Evening News. 12 April 2007. http://edinburghnews.scotsman.com/business.cfm?id=562302007. Retrieved 2007-11-27. 
  11. ^ "Proposed disposal of Primesight". London Stock Exchange. 31 August 2007. http://www.londonstockexchange.com/LSECWS/IFSPages/MarketNewsPopup.aspx?id=1567047&source=RNS. Retrieved 2007-08-31. 
  12. ^ "Company fined for illegal advertising". Wandsworth. 30 May 2007. http://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/Home/MyWandsworth/Pressreleases/searchreleasedetail.htm?id=5061. Retrieved 2007-11-27. 
  13. ^ "It all ads up to a £6k fine". This is Local London. 7 June 2007. http://www.thisislocallondon.com/whereilive/localheadlines/display.var.1454962.0.it_all_ads_up_to_a_6k_fine.php. Retrieved 2007-11-27. 
  14. ^ "Hindsight on SMG's sale of Primesight". Sunday Herald. 2007. http://www.sundayherald.com/business/businessnews/display.var.1460464.0.hindsight_on_smgs_sale_of_primesight.php. Retrieved 2007-11-27. 
  15. ^ "SMG begins move to brand new home at Pacific Quay". SMG Television. 7 July 2006. http://stv.lumison.net/content/default.asp?page=s5_4_4&newsid=3492. Retrieved 2007-08-31. 
  16. ^ "ITV takes legal action over STV's network programme payments". The Guardian. 22 September 2009. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/sep/22/itv-stv-network-programme-budget-contributions. Retrieved 2009-09-22. 
  17. ^ "SMG turns down UTV merger bid". MediaGuardian (free subscription required). 29 August 2006. http://media.guardian.co.uk/city/story/0,,1860542,00.html. Retrieved 2007-03-07. 
  18. ^ "ITV mulls bid for media firm SMG". The Scotsman. 29 October 2006. http://business.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=1600952006. Retrieved 2007-03-07. 
  19. ^ "UTV gains ground in SMG merger negotiations". The Business. 10 January 2007. http://www.thebusinessonline.com/Document.aspx?id=F1FE66B5-A1D6-414C-B350-94E0A5342A2F. Retrieved 2007-03-07. 

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