Taggart brings the curtain down on STV2


STV's doomed second channel bows out this weekend with the story of Gilbert and Sullivan and a two-part Taggart.

Four years after launching STV Glasgow - a station that was subsequently merged into the second STV network - the Scottish broadcaster has called time on the STV2 and will cease broadcasts at the stroke of midnight into 1st July 2018.

After providing viewers the opportunity to see what they've missed on STV2 at 4:30pm on Saturday 30th June, there's a 1953 film on Gilbert and Sullivan, starring Robert Morley and Maurice Evans, followed by a two part Taggart at 9pm, featuring the 2005 story "Puppet on a Sting". After a final showing of STV2's Live At Five show at 11pm, the channel ceases an hour later.

STV2 was formed after STV successfully acquired five local TV licences across Scotland, enabling it to broadcast a low-power, restricted area Freeview service, alongside wider coverage on Sky and cable. It became the home of Scotland's first integrated international, UK and Scottish news bulletin and featured daily live magazine programmes.

But the launch of STV2 was controversial, as it signalled the end of the short-lived city TV stations for Glasgow and Edinburgh. And rather than offering each area of Scotland its own news service, as was originally envisaged, the new channel ended up being less local than the main STV channel 3 service, with reports from each part of Scotland incorporated in a Scotland-wide schedule on Sky and in some areas on Freeview.

The end of STV2 has proved equally controversial, with near 60 jobs axed at STV as part of a savage shift in direction for the broadcaster and a bid to cut the ongoing losses that running STV2 has caused for the business. This has lead union leaders to ballot members at STV on strike action. But last week, the threat of industrial action was reduced after STV indicated it would not impose any compulsory redundancies. Some STV2 programmes are due to continue on the main STV channel.

The licences to operate a service in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Ayr and Dundee have been sold to local TV company That's TV, who already run a stripped down, bear-bones service across a number of locations across England and Wales. That's TV offers classic, royalty-free films during the day, followed by an hour of looped news programming after 6pm. Details of the sale have not been disclosed, and there are questions about the ongoing financial viability of the service, as it will not be able to benefit from BBC licence fee funding, unlike other services south of the border. STV2 has only been able to attract viewers in the thousands, despite benefiting from satellite carriage on Sky and a live stream on the STV Player, so it's also unclear how a That's TV service north of the border will be able to sustain itself through advertising and sponsorship. The new service will also face competition from the new BBC Scotland TV channel, which is due to launch in February 2019 and be available across all of Scotland on all digital TV platforms.

In line with previous station launches, where services have gone on-air with no publicity or prior announcement, That's TV hasn't provided any details of what it will be doing with the service from 1st July. Previous take-overs within the local TV network have resulted in channels going off-line for a period of time before the new service hits the airwaves. It took nearly a month for That's TV to resume broadcasting to Norwich after the closure of Mustard TV at the end of August 2017. That's TV has not responded to enquiries.




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