Scotland Today gets revamp in battle for ratings

Scottish Television’s flagship news programme, Scotland Today, this week underwent a radical makeover as part of a new offensive in its ratings war with its arch-rival, BBC Scotland’s Reporting Scotland, writes Hamish Mackay.  Newscasters Sarah Heaney, Shereen Nanjiani and John Mackay present the main story of the day standing in front of the cameras — as pioneered by ex-Scotland Today presenter Kirsty Young on Channel 5’s main news programme.

During the rest of the 30-minute programme, the Scottish TV trio sit side-by-side on a "news bench" without a desk in front of them. The programme is also set to benefit from further investment in new technology to allow more live reporting and live interviews.  The relaunch is being backed by newspaper advertising and extensive TV promotions, with the marketing message "Scotland Today – it’s your news". Scottish TV has also launched a new daytime news and features programme, The Afternoon Edition of Scotland Today.

The programme is being presented by Angus Simpson, Louise White, Stephen Jardine and Sarah Heaney.  As it’s an election year in Scotland, politics and current affairs programmes are also getting a fresh look.

Scotland’s only Sunday current affairs programme, Seven Days, has moved to a new regular weekly slot of 12.30.

Paul McKinney, head of news and current affairs, said: "We’ve listened to what our viewers want from their Scottish news.

We know they value and trust our news programmes, but we also know they expect us to change with the times and to adopt new and innovative ways of reporting the news.

"We believe the changes we’re making to our set and titles will attract new viewers while retaining the loyal viewers."

Scotland Today, which has been on air for 30 years, once held a clear ratings advantage over Reporting Scotland.

When it took over a new slot competing with the main BBC national evening news bulletin at 6pm, it lost viewers. But it recovered in the first six months of 2001 with an audience of 540,000, compared with 517,000 for Reporting Scotland.

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