Redundancies Expected at STV as Impact of New Technology Takes Hold

The new technology that is enabling STV to turn its new Edinburgh and east of Scotland news service from a pilot project into a permanent one – as reported earlier today on allmediascotland – is expected to result in job losses elsewhere within the company.

STV management has been briefing staff on the roles that are expected to be 'impacted' by the new technology that allows for leaner technical teams.

A STV spokesperson told allmediascotland that, as the company enters a period of consultation with staff and their trade union representatives, “it is anticipated 20 roles will be impacted, but, at the same time, seven new posts will be created as we launch our new [30-minute news and current affairs] Scotland Tonight programme later this month”.

The spokesperson said she wasn't able to confirm or deny suggstions that the net result of the changes may be 12 or 13 job losses, mainly in Aberdeen, with perhaps a couple of roles going in Glasgow.

STV's Bobby Hain, director of channels, is expected to appear on STV's North Tonight, produced in Aberdeen, talking about the proposed changes. It is also expected Paul McManus, Scottish Organiser of the trade union, BECTU, will also feature.

The spokesperson also said: “Viewers will not notice any difference, on-screen.”

When announcing the switch from pilot to permanent in the Edinburgh news service, a STV statement said: “Following today’s announcement, new technology will be rolled out in full in our studios in Edinburgh and Aberdeen. As a result, there will be some changes to the structure of our news teams and studio operations across the country.” 

McManus told “Naturally, BECTU welcomes any increase in regional or local programming across STV and the ITV network in general and is something which BECTU has long campaigned for.

“Therefore STV’s press release today regarding its future strategy for its Edinburgh and east of Scotland news is, on the face of it, a positive step in the right direction. However, the technology used to deliver the Edinburgh pilot in recent months will now be rolled out to Aberdeen and this will have a direct consequence on jobs and BECTU believes the way in which STV plans to do this may well dilute the high quality service which viewers in the Grampian licence region are used to.

“BECTU will begin the formal consultation process with management tomorrow morning and will get full details of the intended job cuts then, but staff briefings indicate that around a dozen posts will go between Aberdeen and Glasgow and a number of these are in technical craft areas like camera and editing.”

McManus added he is concerned that both the quality and quantity of news in the north could suffer, saying “less camera operators and less editors means that it will not be possible to collect and process the same quality or quantity of news as the company does currently and this will be an area we will need a great deal of discussion with, and reassurances, from the company over”.

He continued: “We understand that, overall, the announcement is positive for regional news and for the viewers in the east of Scotland but it is a pity that the staff who have helped create this success are now paying for it with their jobs. We will also be making it extremely clear to STV that we will strongly oppose any attempts at compulsory redundancies. The company has previously given us strong commitments on the retraining and redeployment of staff and we expect that commitment to be maintained through this process.”

Tomorrow, the BBC announces what are expected to be radical restructuring plans to its operation – titled 'Delivering Quality First' – which will, it is feared, massively dwarf the changes being proposed by STV.