STV will cut 34 news jobs as part of savings of £1m per year as the Scottish broadcaster launches a three-year restructure and growth plan.
The STV News 2020 plan will, the broadcaster said, ensure it remains the best news service in Scotland while delivering significant cost savings.
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Another 25 jobs will be lost and a further £1m in annual savings made with the closure of the loss-making STV2 channel at the end of June, as STV shifts content investment online and sells local TV assets to That’s Media.
Cost savings from the news and STV2 divisions will go towards new investment in original content and digital growth over the next three years, the company said today.
Despite the job cuts, which is believed to include the entire digital reporting news team, STV is recruiting a new head of news “to lead this transformation”.
STV is the ITV license holder for Scotland, meaning it broadcasts many of the same shows.
STV2 airs the half-hourly STV News Tonight, presented by Halla Mohieddeen live from Glasgow, each weeknight at 7pm to cover Scottish, UK and international news from a Scottish perspective.
STV2’s programming also includes STV News at One, Scottish Politics This Week and weekday current affairs magazine show Live at Five, while both STV channels air STV News – Glasgow at 6pm on weekdays.
The broadcaster has yet to confirm what its news output will look like after the changes.
STV chief executive Simon Pitts said: “News is fundamental to the STV brand and we remain committed to offering the best news service in Scotland.
“However, given how quickly news consumption is changing it is vital that STV evolves to stay competitive, and we are therefore launching a comprehensive change programme – STV News 2020 – that will see us invest in skills, technology and digital as well as delivering cost savings.”
Pitts was appointed in January this year after leaving ITV, where he was managing director of online, pay TV, interactive and technology.
In its analysis of the changing media landscape which accompanied this statement, STV said television news had undergone a “fundamental shift” in consumption with more news watched online and on social media than on TV.
“More under 55s browse STV news online than watch our regular bulletins,” it said.
The National Union of Journalists said it would strongly oppose compulsory redundancies and work with STV in an attempt to reduce the number of redundancies required.
It also condemned the end of STV News Tonight on STV2, and the Edinburgh edition of STV News at Six.
John Toner, national organiser NUJ Scotland, said the job cuts and closure of STV2 would “lead to a massive reduction in the breadth and depth of news coverage viewers in Scotland currently enjoy”.
He added: “It is also clear that a multi-platform newsroom will introduce an entirely new way of working, which will have consequences for the way that news is gathered and delivered.”
News staff at STV’s Glasgow headquarters held an NUJ chapel meeting this afternoon which became “overcrowded, hot and stuffy” leading to them moving outside, prompting claims of a walkout on social media.
The NUJ said the chapel meeting was held with the approval of management.
STV is also creating a new dedicated digital team under a new managing director to drive the growth of its online streaming service, STV Player, for which it will launch an ad-free subscription version.
Pitts said: “This is a positive vision for STV that will re-establish the company as a creative force in Scotland and beyond.
“We will invest in creative talent, new original programming and digital to ensure STV becomes Scotland’s home of news and entertainment and delivers long-term value for advertisers, shareholders and viewers alike.”
Scottish Labour said the news was a “devastating blow” for staff and the creative and media industry.
Culture spokeswoman Claire Baker said: “At a time when BBC is launching a new channel and Glasgow is making a strong bid to be the new headquarters for Channel 4, we should be looking to build our media capacity in Scotland not diminish it.
“At the same time we need a strong and independent news sector to hold the Governments at Westminster and Holyrood to account and scrutinise Brexit for Scottish viewers.
“STV have been lauded for its local and national news and politics coverage, these redundancies risk undermining that.”
Scottish Conservative spokeswoman Rachael Hamilton added: “This is a hammer blow to broadcasting in Scotland, and to journalism here more generally.
“STV is a trusted news source and should be investing in people, not sacking them.”