STV strike looming amid fears station to be swallowed by ITV
STV staff are expected to strike amid fears the broadcaster will be sold to parent company ITV.
Journalists and production staff are to be balloted on industrial action next week, with sources saying the workforce will vote to walk out.
It follows revelations that nearly 60 jobs are to be axed by the broadcaster, while the loss-making STV2 channel will close less than a year after launching.
The Scottish Seven news bulletin will also be scrapped after failing to attract viewers.
Nicola Sturgeon has insisted she will oppose STV being sold to ITV.
Sources said yesterday it was ‘very likely’ that staff will opt to walk out over the cuts and restructuring, which will see 59 lose their jobs.
One said: ‘Everyone is very angry and they want to make that known. Lots of people are about to lose their jobs – with some facing compulsory redundancy.’ There are two weeks in which staff can opt for voluntary redundancy before bosses will move to compulsory cuts.
It is believed workers are unimpressed with the packages being offered and there are fears very few will apply for voluntary redundancy. A source said there were rumours within the firm that ITV could take over the Scottish company, which could see news bulletins pre-recorded and broadcast from south of the Border. STV claims this is not the case.
However, the First Minister addressed the suggestions at Holyrood yesterday and urged bosses not to sell.
Miss Sturgeon said that someone had raised the issue with her, adding: ‘That is not a move I would wish to see and I think that move would be opposed and resisted by very many people across the country.’
She also expressed her concern over STV chief executive Simon Pitts’s decision to cut staff and channels in a bid to save £2million.
‘This will be a very worrying time for all employees of STV who are affected by yesterday’s announcement,’ she said.
STV presenters including John MacKay, Kelly-Ann Woodward and Raman Bhardwaj were among those
‘Everyone is very angry’
who attended a National Union of Journalists’ meeting at the station’s Pacific Quay HQ in Glasgow on Wednesday after news of the cuts.
Mr Pitts announced the plans on Wednesday – just months after he joined the firm and was handed an £850,000 ‘golden hello’.
This comprised a cash payment of £187,000, with deferred shares valued at £666,000 to be drip-fed to him until 2021.
He claimed the shake-up was a ‘positive’ step for the broadcaster and has blamed the BBC’s decision to launch a BBC Scotland channel with a ‘Scottish Nine’ news bulletin as part of the reason why STV has decided to scale back operations.
Scottish Lib Dem culture spokesman Eileen McCartin said: ‘Handing out more than £800,000 to a CEO whose first act is to slash staff looks like an act of supreme callousness. It’s essential we have a rigorous and independent news sector to hold both of Scotland’s Governments to account.’
On possible strike action, an STV spokesman said: ‘Following the announcement yesterday of our three-year growth strategy for STV, we confirmed to staff the commencement of a 30-day consultation period.
‘This is now under way to enable us to actively engage with colleagues and unions on taking forward our change programme.
‘We will continue to listen closely to the team’s concerns and ideas.’
Meanwhile, Mr Pitts has insisted that there are no plans to sell STV.
He said: ‘Our sole focus is on growing STV through investment in new original programming for Scottish viewers, in our digital service STV Player and in STV Productions, which we want to build into a worldclass Scottish success story.’
Anchorman: John MacKay