Round two: STV guns for ITV over rights sold to BT, Virgin

Alan Watts

The Scottish broadcaster’s operating companies STV Central and STV North issued proceedings against both the ITV Network and ITV Broadcasting last week (16 November).
ITV Network has instructed longstanding adviser Olswang to respond to the claim, while ITV Broadcasting has turned to Lovells.

STV is seeking damages for deals struck on video-on-demand services between ITV and BT Vision and ­Virgin Media. This ­effectively allowed ITV to let BT and Virgin show ITV-branded programmes that it had agreed would be shown on STV, without STV giving its explicit permission.

“Although the amount of damages will require expert evidence to determine, STV estimates that they could be up to £12m,” STV said in a statement.

The broadcaster is also seeking an injunction to prevent ITV from entering into any further media rights agreements without STV’s consent.

ITV responded by saying that the claim was issued to divert attention from ­proceedings it had launched against STV in September. ITV Broadcasting and ITV Network have jointly instructed Olswang to act in those proceedings.

That case centres on STV’s decision to opt out of showing ITV programmes such as Midsomer Murders, Al Murray’s Happy Hour and Kingdom, preferring to show programmes that were made in Scotland. ITV is seeking £38m in lost revenue.

Earlier this year Eversheds partner Antony Gold successfully defended a multimillion-pound claim against ITV from Excelsior, the production company behind The Darling Buds of May and A Touch of Frost.

That case, in which Fulbright & Jaworski partner Chris Warren-Smith and senior associate Stephen Elam represented Excelsior, centred on royalties allegedly owed to Excelsior for programmes the broadcaster sold on to ITV2 and ITV3.

Gold turned to Brick Court Chambers’ Charles Hollander QC to represent ITV, while Warren-Smith instructed 3 Verulam Buildings’ Andrew Sutcliffe QC.