Page last updated at 12:57 GMT, Saturday, 31 May 2008 13:57 UK

SMG concentrates on TV business

Jamie McIvor
BBC Scotland

smg logo
SMG sold the station to concentrate on TV interests
SMG is fighting to revive its fortunes and the deal to sell Virgin Radio is part of its strategy.

A new management team, led by chief executive Rob Woodward, took control of the company last spring.

In effect, the company was placed under new management with a new chairman, chief executive and non-executive directors.

Mr Woodward's team believes the company should focus its attention primarily on STV, the ITV station in Central and Northern Scotland.

Over the past year SMG has sold off the outdoor advertising company Primesight and raised 95m through a rights issue.

Its cinema advertising business Pearl and Dean is also for sale.

But while the company's debt has fallen substantially, its share price has collapsed.

Original plan

When Mr Woodward started work SMG's share price was about 70p but last Friday its shares were worth less than 14p each.

The company hopes to build a solid future around STV and its television production business.

The price Virgin is being sold for is likely to disappoint some investors.

The original plan was to float off Virgin as a separate company and SMG reportedly hoped the move would raise 100m.

However turbulence in global stock markets put paid to this plan.

The Times of India group will need to find a new name for Virgin Radio - under the terms of the sale, it will not be able to use the Virgin brand name.

SMG as a media group grew out of STV in the mid 1990s.

Its first moves were to buy The Herald newspaper in Glasgow - which was later sold on again - and Grampian Television which has gradually been absorbed into STV over the years and is now mainly a regional news service.

Critics have long wondered how long SMG might survive as an independent company

The sale of Virgin and the impending sale of Pearl and Dean means the company will consist of little more than STV.

The company hopes to boost advertising and sponsorship within Scotland by giving the channel a more distinctively Scottish flavour.

But its fortunes are closely linked with those of ITV1 in England and Wales - for the most part STV follows exactly the same schedule.

Now SMG is, in effect, little more than "ITV in Scotland" rather than a multimedia empire.

Critics have long wondered how long SMG might survive as an independent company.

Now they are bound to ask whether it really makes sense in the long term to have an independently-owned TV station whose fate is closely linked to a network of which it forms only a small part.

SMG seeks investors to cut debts
06 Nov 07 |  Scotland
SMG puts businesses on the market
27 Jun 07 |  Scotland
SMG and Ulster TV talks shelved
28 Feb 07 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
UTV scraps plans for SMG merger
20 Sep 06 |  Business
SMG puts Pearl & Dean up for sale
13 Sep 06 |  Business
Virgin Radio firm rejects merger
29 Aug 06 |  Business
Scottish Media Group head resigns
18 Jul 06 |  Scotland

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