Grampian Television

Grampian Television

Infobox ITV franchisee
name = STV North (2006-)
Grampian Television (1961-2006)

based = Aberdeen
area = Northern Scotland
owner = STV Group plc
airdate = 30 September 1961
Grampian Television logo, late 1990s
captionb =
closeddate = lost on-air identity on 30 May 2006
(rebranded as STV along with Scottish Television)
replaced =
replacedby =
website = []

Grampian Television (now legally known as STV North Ltd and referred to on-air as STV) is the ITV franchisee for the North of Scotland, based in Aberdeen. 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. It has been in operation since 30 September 1961.

STV North is now 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 the North of Scotland is called "North Tonight" and is supplemented by short news bulletins seven days a week. Alongside regional news, STV North produces Scottish Gaelic-language programming, in association with independent production company "Kenyon Communications". Recent English-language regional programming has been produced by SMG Productions in Glasgow and other independent production companies or co-produced with STV Central for broadcast in both regions. The station also produces a regular online video blog entitled "Northern Exposure" and regional television commercials.

Some of the most recent regional programmes produced by the station include the popular "Beyond Explanation", presented by Dundonian actor Brian Cox, which looked at mysterious sightings across Scotland over the last few centuries. Another production was "", which covered past unsolved criminal cases in Scotland. The series drew high viewing figures and there was an increase the number of calls made to the police by witnesses of various events who had seen the programme. Less popular productions include "Where's Your Head At?", a low-budget production which interviewed a selection of people about seemingly irrelevant issues, but did not gain high ratings.

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 plans to begin its 5-year programme to cease analogue television broadcasts as part of the switchover to digital television, with the STV North region switching over from May till October 2010.


Foundation period

Applications for the new north and north-east of 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 provisio 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 the new Yorkshire Television in 1967/1968.

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

A former tram depot at Queen's Cross, Aberdeen was purchased at the end of 1960 and was scheduled to be converted to studios by the planned launch date of September 1961. Premises 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 have connected 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' neighbour 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.

Early years on-air

Grampian Television went on air on Saturday 30 September 1961 at 2:45pm with an authority announcement and a brief welcome from the chairman of the Independent Television Authority, Sir Ivonne Kirkpatrick, before handing 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, introduced an half-hour introductory programme about the station.

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. This led to a successful reduction in transmitter rental for Grampian but by 1962 the station had succeeded in increasing audience in the city and the area as a whole. By the late sixties, the potential audience of the region reached a million viewers and Grampian was employing just over 200 staff at their studios in Aberdeen 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 linked up with ABC Weekend Television. [ [ Grampian ] ]

Technological advances

Grampian was slower than most other ITV stations to begin colour broadcasting, which after the company invested £180,000 in new equipment, promptly started in September 1971. 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 of investment into Grampian's headquarters at Queen's Cross in Aberdeen during the early 80s. Grampian also developed its own outside broadcast unit, initially using studio equipment.

MG buyout

Grampian remained independent until 10 June 1997 when Scottish Media Group (SMG) bought the station for £105 million. [ [ Scottish Media buys Grampian for 105m pounds] , Cathy Newman, The Independent, 11 June 1997] . In June 2003, the company moved to new premises at Craigshaw Business Park in West Tullos, Aberdeen and the original headquarters at Queen's 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, "North Tonight" (Grampian TV) and "Scotland Today" (Scottish TV) are still broadcast in their respective regions after the "stv" rebranding, which occurred at 9:25am on Tuesday 30 May 2006.

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 "North Tonight" on weekdays and separate local advertising. The station is reportedly considering the introduction of a third news and advertising sub-region for the Highlands and Islands area.

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 SMG's contract to supply early morning "Scotland Today" and "North Today" bulletins. SMG 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.


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


*"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 - present)
*"North Tonight" (1980 - present)

Current Affairs

*"The Buck Stops Here"
*"Craig Millar Reports" (latterly "The Craig Millar Files", 2003 - 2004)
*"Crossfire" (1984 - 2004)
*"Grampian Week"
*"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"


*"The A9 Mystery" (1978)
*"About Britain" (contributions for the ITV network)
*"Alternative Energy" (for Channel Four, 1990)
*"Beyond Explanation"
*"The Big Beat"
*"The Blood is Strong" (for Channel Four, late 1980s)
*"Cop College"
*"A Day in the Life"
*"Export Scotch" (1982)
*"A Glen for All Seasons" (1997)
*"Highlands" (produced by SMG Productions, 2008)
*"Hot Property" (for the ITV network)
*"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 SMG Productions, 2007)
*"Northern Eye"
*"Oil" (co-produced with NRK for Channel Four, 1986)
*"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"
*"This Scotland" (co-produced with Scottish Television)
*"Unsolved" (2003-4)
*"Walking Back to Happiness"
*"The Woman Who Ate Scotland" (2006-7)
*"A Year in Spain: Selina Scott with the Spanish Royal Family" (for the ITV network, 1993)


*"Country Matters"
*"Desert Island Chefs"
*"The Electric Theatre Show"
*"The Five Thirty Show" (co-produced with STV Central, 2008 - present)
*"Fix It"
*"Get Real"
*"Grampian Midweek" (2000 - 2003)
*"Grampian Weekend"
*"The Great Outdoors"
*"Grow for It"
*"Northern Exposure" (for, 2007 - present)
*"" (for, 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"
*"Spend, Spend, Spend"
*"Summer at Six"
*"Under The Hammer" (1997 - 1999, co-produced with Scottish Television)
*"The Way It Was"


*"Andy's Party"
*"The Art Sutter Show"
*"Aye Yours"
*"At Home with Kenneth McKellar"
*"Bothy Nichts"
*"Calum's Ceilidh"
*"Cairngorm Cabaret"
*"Cairngorm Ski Night"
*"Come Aboard"
*"Country and Irish"
*"Club Cupid" (co-produced with STV Central, 2006)
*"Conquer the Castle" (produced by SMG Productions, 2008)
*"The Entertainers"
*"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"
*"The National Television Awards" (for the ITV network, 1996-8)
*"Northern Nights"
*"Pick of the North"
*"The Royal Clansmen"
*"Runrig on the Rock"
*"Random Choice"
*"Scotland The What"
*"Shammy Dab"
*"Stritcly Scottish"
*"A Touch of Music"
*"Talking Loud"
*"Top Club" (1971 - 1998)
*"The Video Show" (1985)
*"Video Jukebox" (1987)
*"Welcome to the Ceildh"
*"You'd Better Believe It!" (1990)


*"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)
*"Pick A Number" (1987 - 1996)
*"Romper Room"
*"Ron & Friends" (mid - late 1970s)
*"Scene on Saturday" (mid 1970s - early 1980s)
*"Wize Up" (1996 - 1997)
*"Zoom!" (early - mid 1970s)


*"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.


*"Gather Round"
*"Living and Growing" (late 1960s - 1995)
*"Simply Sewing"
*"Our Police"


*"First Thing"
*"Highway" (contributions for the ITV network)
*"In Good Faith"
*"Morning Worship" (contributions for the ITV network)

cots Gaelic

*"Ceol na Fidhle" (Traditional music)
*"Comhla Rinn" (Chat show)
*"Crann Tara" (Current affairs/features)
*"Cuir Car" (Children's)
*"Fialte" (Features)
*"Fionnan Feior" (Documentaries)
*"Le Durach" (Gaelic version of "The Birthday Spot")
*"Seall" (Documentaries)
*"Sechd Laithean, A Iomadh Du'Thaich" (Children's)
*"Spors" (Sport)
*"Telefios" (Regional news, 1993 - 2000)
*"Telefios na Seachduinn" (News review, 1993 - 2000)


External links

* []

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