Television: Flanagan’s departure from SMG

THE irony won’t be lost on keen observers of Scottish media company, SMG, these last few years. On the same day, it was announced Andrew Flanagan’s tenure as chief executive had come to a sudden end, after a decade at the helm, arguably SMG’s most prominent company, stv, was announcing the launch of its new website.

In many ways, the website perfectly encapsulates SMG’s history under Flanagan. Of course, stv itself is another illustration – not least if your eyes go misty at the thought of Grampian TV, now subsumed into the stv brand, which also includes the former Scottish TV.

Flanagan’s departure was described as ‘by mutual consent’. As when managers suddenly depart football clubs, it rarely is interpreted as such. If the SMG board wanted him to remain, surely they would have at least said in their statement to the Stock Exchange that they had fought tooth and nail to dissuade him from wanting to go.

Ten years ago, ‘TV-land’ was a very different place to what it is now. Now, there are hundreds of TV channels to choose from, as opposed to just a handful in the not-so-distant past. Hundreds of channels mean a smaller slice of the advertising revenue pie.

Not even broadcasting regulators, Ofcom, was prepared to put up a fight against inevitable requests to spend less by making less programmes. Ofcom may insist the local output of stv has to be considerably more than in the English regions, but it is still a paltry amount in comparison to the ‘good old days’.

These days, every media outlet, including newspapers, talks of providing content across a variety platforms.