Scottish station STV has reached a new agreement with ITV that sees the regional broadcaster become an "affiliate" of the Channel 3 Network – a move that is likely to spell an end to STV infuriating its viewers by opting out of major ITV programmes.
In 2009, STV announced that it would cease showing programmes such as Doc Martin and Lewis to its Scottish viewers. In 2010, it famously did not show the first series of Downton Abbey.
The opt-out policy – widely assumed to be motivated by money, but defended by STV on the grounds that it wished to concentrate on regional programming – led to a long legal dispute with ITV, which was settled out of court last year.
According to BBC Scotland, the new deal involves a flat networking fee – removing the financial incentive STV may have had to decline to show certain flagship ITV programmes – but does not take away STV's right to revert to its own programming as and when it feels editorially jusitifed in doing so.
Rob Woodward, CEO of STV, said: "STV remains 100% committed to its public service broadcasting credentials, to delivering a distinct schedule for Scotland and to providing a platform for informed debate."
Northern Ireland's UTV has also signed up to become an ITV affiliate.