A group of Scottish media executives has made a powerful plea to MPs for the relaxation of newspaper merger rules.
But the newspaper bosses found it hard to win sympathy from Labour and Scottish Nationalist members of the committee who were critical of recent job cuts.
Major restructuring has recently taken place within all three groups, with the move to merged newsrooms at both The Herald, Sunday Herald and Evening Times and The Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday, along with job losses at the Trinity-owned Daily Record and Sunday Mail.
The MPs, who are midway through an investigation into the crisis in the Scottish newspaper industry, were warned that the survival of many Scottish titles was in doubt.
“We need a relaxation in the regulation regime or there will be nothing left to regulate,” Mark Hollinshead, managing director of national titles for Trinity Mirror, told the committee.
However, MPs gave the newspaper executives a rough ride over the mergers of daily and Sunday staff and the resulting job cuts.
One said that management tactics of “merger and redundancy” were undermining the standards of journalism in Scotland
Tim Blott, regional managing director of Newsquest Herald & Times denied that the moves would reduce quality.
“Merging titles is an efficient use of resources which shouldn’t reduce quality. Merging newsrooms is taking place across the world,” he said.
Michael Johnston, of Johnston Press, which owns Scotsman Publications, added: “We’re looking how best to use limited resources in an efficient way to maintain our products. This is being driven by hard economic reality.
“The industry is in a very difficult place and it is possible, in certain places although I hope it never happens in my own organisation, that you will have no journalists.”
AndyPandy (08/05/2009 17:01:44)
Tim Blott knows Newsquest has killed quality on the Herald. Even his former editor recognised the paper was no longer fit to be called a national title