TV Overhaul Imminent at SMG

The chief executive of SMG is to carry out an overhaul of his company’s TV division – yesterday identified as SMG’s core business, following an announcement – reported by Spike – that it is to float its radio arm, Virgin Radio, on the Stock Exchange.

Rob Woodward, appointed at the start of last month, as part of a boardroom restructuring that also saw a new chair – Richard Findlay – installed, was speaking yesterday, following the publication of disappointing financial results for SMG, the resignation – the day before – of former acting chief executive, Donald Emslie, and the Virgin Radio announcement.

He told Spike: “Given the really interesting position that Scotland is in, as a nation, it absolutely deserves a strong commercial broadcaster that’s on the ‘front foot’. The ability for that broadcaster to then connect with not only Scotland as a whole, but the various communities within, is a very powerful and meaningful proposition.

“We made it clear from the very beginning [including when trying to persuade shareholders to back his and Findlay’s hopes to join the SMG board], we are not there to dismantle an organisation, but build one. There will be staff implications because we need an organisation that is aligned to our strategy and we need people that are aligned to it. To a degree that will involve a re-skilling of the organisation. I will come back to the market [the Stock Exchange] in June with the precise implications of that. Our focus is how we develop this business, which, ultimately, has to be good news.

“We will change the organisation, we will make it a simpler organisation, more focussed on being able to deliver the [TV is core] strategy I’ve outlined.”

Last week, it was announced that well-known Scottish programme-maker, Alan Clements, was to leave RDF Media for SMG, although efforts to extricate him from his contract with the London-based company are still on-going. Clements was part-owner of IWC Media, when it was taken over by RDF almost eighteen months ago.

Added Woodward: “The appointment of Alan Clements can surely leave nobody in any doubt about our commitment to programming and content; I can’t think of a better person to come and lead our future ambition in the development of Scottish-based content.”

Preliminary financial results for last year showed that compared to 2005, revenue was down by revenue down eight per cent, from