SMG review will consider new home for Scottish TV

Scottish Television looks set to quit its HQ in Renfield Street, Glasgow, after parent company Scottish Media Group commissioned a review of its future property needs.

The review will look at four options.

Two include refurbishing and developing the existing site, with the other two involving moving to an existing building elsewhere, or building a new purpose-built centre.

There has been speculation that Scottish TV, which shares its HQ with SMG, will move to the media hub being created at Pacific Quay on the Clyde.

BBC Scotland is to build a new £127m HQ for its 1,442 staff at Pacific Quay by 2006, and Channel 4 is also expected to move its Scottish operation to the site. But with Scottish Television no longer needing a Glasgow base because of advances in digital cameras and editing equipment, the company could move out of the city, and this has prompted Glasgow City Council to move swiftly to try to avert the loss of a prestigious employer by offering an attractive property deal.

The proposals follow a £5.5m move in June by Grampian TV – also owned by SMG – to a state-of-the-art digital facility on an industrial estate on the outskirts of Aberdeen.

In April, SMG was forced to sell The Herald newspaper and magazine stable to US conglomerate Gannet’s UK division, Newsquest, for £216m in an attempt to pay off large debts after recording losses of £64.2m, and coming close to breaching its banking covenants. Its share price has dropped from around 365p in the summer of 2001 to around 84p.

Scottish Television has been based at Renfield Street for 30 years and built an adjoining glass and metal extension to accommodate The Herald stable which it bought in the late Nineties. The uneasy relationship between Scottish Television’s 330 workers and their former colleagues was revealed when journalists on the newspaper titles were barred from the television company’s subsidised canteen on security grounds.

Glasgow City Council owns half the Renfield Street site and is looking at ways to encourage SMG to remain within the city boundary.

Donald Emslie, the chief executive of television at SMG, said: “We have already seen great benefits from Grampian TV’s move from old to new premises, and the time is right to investigate what is achievable for Scottish Television.”

 

By Hamish Mackay

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