MSP attacks Emap plan to cut Scottish radio jobs

Emap's radio division is preparing to axe a number of newsroom jobs in Scotland while other Scottish radio stations are recording their highest ever audience figures.

Scottish MPs have expressed outrage over the effect planned job cuts by Emap will have on coverage of forthcoming elections.

A cost-cutting strategy is underway that affects radio stations in Scotland, England and Northern Ireland.

The move comes at a time when other Scottish radio stations are experiencing a boom. BBC Radio Scotland, Real Radio Scotland and Talk 107 are celebrating record audience figures, according to results published yesterday by Rajar.

Real Radio Scotland has achieved its highest ever listening figures, gaining more than 60,000 listeners in the last year. The
GMG-owned station is listened to by 762,000 people – an
increase of 8.7 per cent.

Edinburgh's Talk 107, which
launched in February last year, has gained an extra 11,000 listeners in
the last quarter – up from 23,000 to 34,000.

And BBC Radio Scotland has boosted its listening figures by 7.8 per cent and is now heard by almost 1.1 million people.

But the Scottish National Party’s media spokesman, Stewart Maxwell MSP, expressed concern that Emap newsroom cuts would affect the stations' ability to cover their patch.

The media group currently owns 13 radio stations in Scotland, following its purchase of Scottish Radio Holdings in June 2005.

Maxwell told Press Gazette: “Emap makes plenty of money; it’s not as if it is a company that’s losing money and has to make job cuts to survive, this is about increased profits.” Stewart said he was concerned that cutting Radio Forth’s newsroom from nine to five staff would seriously affect the Edinburgh station’s output.

He said: “How it will cope in trying to cover this area plus all the events such as the festival and Parliament I don’t know. “We also have an election coming up in three months and it looks like Emap has given up on any in-depth and substantive coverage of Scottish affairs.”

As early as December last year, Emap bosses emailed managers to warn that plummeting advertising and magazine closures abroad meant the company was on a “war footing” and looking to undertake a cost-cutting drive.

An Emap spokeswoman declined to confirm the actual numbers involved, because staff are in a 30-day consultation period and said “nothing is a done deal until every avenue has been explored”. It is understood that around 20 jobs across the whole of Scotland, 20 jobs across England and about 10 in Northern Ireland will be axed.

The company stressed that, contrary to some press reports, Emap is not closing newsrooms and each station will continue to have local journalists.

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