I completely missed this news yesterday. The first time I heard about it, it was buried in a newspaper review on Radio Scotland this morning. SMG have finally decided to stop pretending that they are running two television stations and just be upfront about it. Grampian Television will be gone forever, and the two SMG regions will now be called good old ‘STV’.
Thing is, they’ve actually taken quite a brave decision. Well, kind of. A real brave decision would have involved making good programmes. But by ditching the Grampian name they are opening themselves up to accusations of Glasbolisation and general central belt centredness. People will start to think that SMG are doing things on the cheap by ending regional programmes.
When I told my dad about this he said, “So are they not going to have regional programmes any more?” Then I pointed out to him that both Scottish and Grampian have been showing almost exactly the same output on both stations (apart from regional news) for years already. In fact, I’m sure I’ve read somewhere that it is actually in their Ofcom licenses that Grampian programmes must be shown on Scottish and vice-versa.
This sort of thing can mean so much to a lot of people. Some MPs are up in arms about it of course. My gran lived in Glenrothes, and when she moved to a different house a few blocks away all of a sudden she found herself in a different ITV region! She said was upset because she’d miss Shereen! Not that that would matter any more anyway…
I guess SMG thought that with the planned sub-regions for the news (two each in Scottish and Grampian) they decided it would be as easy just to have four sub-regions under the one brand. It’s all a bit odd. Launch sub-regional bulletins then sack all the staff! It will probably be painful viewing…
As I say, though, despite the heritage and all that stuff, I am glad they are ditching the regions idea (symbolically at least). Regional television is a relic, a hangover from the 1950s. Does anybody actually like regional television? But local television programmes are usually unduly parochial, made on the cheap and generally don’t make for pleasent viewing. I think the exception is Newsnight Scotland (I know a lot of people dislike it, but it is so much better than the London-based section of Newsnight which is like watching The Day Today; at least they seem to get somewhere on Newsnight Scotland), and that’s more national than regional / local anyway. Local radio and newspapers can be good, but it just doesn’t work on television. It’s also pretty silly for a television station to have over a dozen different names anyway, when the third channel is usually referred to as ‘ITV’.
Most of the ‘regional’ programmes are nothing to do with the region anyway. I could kind of understand it when they did a programme about fishing or something. But that shoestring budget copycat version of Ready Steady Cook, or that programme about films, and that holiday programme? Let’s not forget those repeats of repeats of repeats of repeats of twenty-year-old editions of Weir’s Way. Cheap or what?
It was also plain embarassing watching Scottish / Grampian Television because of how they tried to escape ever mentioning either of the brands for fear of alienating half of the viewers. More often they would just call it This Channel (‘This Channel?’ which one is that then?), and the logo would consist of four generic blue squares. After midnight the channel actually appeared to be called ‘Nighttime TV’, which fooled nobody. This mess is finally being cleared up, with a much tidier ‘STV’.