MP attacks proposed Herald budget cuts

PLANNED budget cuts at the Herald group of newspapers have been attacked by a SNP MP.

On Friday, Pete Wishart, who represents Perth and North Perthshire, supported a call from the National Union of Journalists that the Competition Commission examine to what extent the owners of the group – which includes The Herald, Sunday Herald and Evening Times – have reneged on promises, made to it, about quality when it bought the group, from SMG, four years ago.

An ePetition set by the NUJ – opposing the proposed budget cut of between two and three million pounds, and subsequent job cuts and possible loss of quality – has attracted almost 1,500 signatories.

Mr Wishart gave evidence at the original Competition Commission hearing.

He said: “During the Competition Commission’s hearing into the takeover of Herald titles by [owners] Gannett/Newsquest, many concerns were raised and many key assurances given. Four years later, there have been redundancies and a steady erosion of Gannett/Newsquest’s ability to maintain and develop a key Scottish title.

“In Scotland, we need viable, robust newspapers to accurately reflect our democratic institutions and properly inform our citizens. More than anything, we need a pluralistic press environment, properly funded and resourced.

“I now think it would be a good idea for the Competition Commission to be reconvened to see if these key objectives have been upheld. I will now be writing to the Competition Commission asking for this to be done.”