Scottish TV sells more programmes: Taggart and the revived Dr Finlay responsible for a change of emphasis

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The Independent Online
TAGGART and Dr Finlay are spearheading a shift of emphasis at Scottish Television, where programme sales are accounting for a growing proportion of revenues.

At a time when many other stations are cutting back on programme-making activities, programme sales at Scottish have risen by 32 per cent to pounds 23.2m. They accounted for 18.5 per cent of group turnover of pounds 114m last year against 16.5 per cent in 1991.

A key factor in the leap was the popularity of Taggart, the station's Scottish detective series. Don Kinloch, the company's finance director, said: 'This area is not that profitable at the moment. But we hope that with the new ITV system it will be soon.' He added that sales this year should rise again to pounds 29m as a result of the station's successful resurrection of Dr Finlay.

Under the old arrangements individual stations often received only enough revenues from programmes supplied on a quota system to the ITV network to cover costs. The new system, due to be fully implemented in 1994, will be on a commercial basis.

Scottish radically restructured in 1992, following its successful pounds 2,000 per annum bid for a new 10-year licence as the company used the final year of its franchise to clear the decks.

This led to exceptional costs of pounds 4.6m, mainly from redundancies. It also wrote off in full its pounds 1.8m investment in the start-up costs of Good Morning Television, the TV-am substitute in which Scottish has a 20 per cent stake. Despite these costs, pre-tax profits rose 18 per cent to pounds 10.14m and the company lifted its final dividend 25 per cent to 8.2031p (6.5625p).

Signs this year are mixed. Advertising revenue rose 3 per cent to pounds 90.8m last year, but Scottish said it detected no improvement in the first three months compared with 1992. But this month has shown a marked rise of 5-7 per cent. The shares fell 2p to 256p.