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Glasgow Business . 41 MEMBER CHAT

Glasgow Business talks to Rob Woodward, Chief Executive of STV, about the revival of the Glasgow-based business and its plans for future growth.

BUSINESS What challenges faced you in your role when you took over as Chief Executive of STV in 2007?

STV was in a perilous position - it was nothing other than a turnaround. Te initial focus was breathing life back into the channel and giving the business a real sense of purpose. It was about making STV relevant in the digital age. Tere were three things that

needed to be done. Firstly repairing our balance sheet, reducing the crippling level of debt that the company then had. Secondly, making sure the core of the business was fit for purpose. Tirdly, start to sow some seeds of future growth, initially through our non-broadcast business and our production business. We went through the process

of selling businesses that didn’t fit with the strategy. We sold Primesight, Virgin Radio, and finally the cinema advertising business Pearl & Dean. One of the things that needed

to be done was restore trust. SMG had lost that position of trust with most of its stakeholders. We needed to show that STV was absolutely open for business and then to build new relationships with multiple stakeholders.

You have very much stressed improving relationships; what do you think that STV’s relationship is now with Glasgow and the West of Scotland?

One of the major things we have been doing is to capture the local dimension. ITV has always had its real heart and its real purpose at a national level and we saw that we needed to be about being local. We have been doing that in our

news coverage which is one of the biggest changes in the channel for people in Glasgow and the West. So we have segmented our news into Glasgow and the West, Edinburgh and the East and Aberdeen and the north with a further dedicated strand for people in Dundee. We will take things to a whole

new level aſter winning the local TV franchises for Glasgow and Edinburgh. Working with the partners with whom we won the bid – Glasgow Caledonian

University and Edinburgh Napier University – we will absolutely be at the leading edge of developing local TV in the UK.

STV is not only a broadcaster but also a programme producer for your own output and others. What is happening on the production side of the business?

We have a very vibrant production business. When I came to STV, the STV Productions business was basically one show that had been very successful: Taggart, and we hadn’t ever sold a series to the BBC. Now the BBC is our largest client. We’ve done eight series of Antiques Road Trip for the BBC. We’ve produced Country

Show Cook Off for the BBC. We’ve produced a series of Catchphrase for ITV. We’ve also produced a film ‘Fire in the Night’ for the BBC to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Piper Alpha which I believe will have a lot of impact.

2014 is going to be a big year for Glasgow and Scotland with the Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup and the Referendum. What will it mean for STV?

It can be and it will be a very important time for us. Te company is now on the front foot and the right track. We are in a

Curriculum vitae Rob Woodward was appointed to the main board position of Chief Executive of STV in 2007. Prior to that he was the Commercial Director of Channel 4 Television . Before joining Channel 4, Rob was Managing Director at UBS Corporate Finance.

position where we can carry a lot of local content about the Games. Glasgow TV will just have begun in the run-up to the Commonwealth Games and we will be able to tell some of the stories of the competitors and the stories behind the events. In terms of the referendum,

our role is to make sure that a proper debate takes place and provide a platform for this. Scotland Tonight, the predominant current affairs programme on television in Scotland will be a key forum for that.

We don’t have the broadcast

rights for the Ryder Cup but again we will be telling the stories that such a major sporting event will produce.

PERSONAL What does the future hold for Rob Woodward?

I’m thoroughly enjoying what I’m doing and my job’s not done. My job is to continue to increase the relevance of STV across Scotland, to generate value for shareholders and for the wider stakeholder group and to deliver sustainable growth going forward.

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