Entertainment & Arts

Capital, Heart and Smooth cull local radio shows

Vick Hope with Roman Kemp and Jamie Theakston with Emma Bunton Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Vick Hope and Roman Kemp present Capital breakfast in London, while until recently Jamie Theakston co-hosted Heart breakfast with Emma Bunton

Global media has announced it will launch UK-wide national breakfast shows on Capital, Heart and Smooth radio.

Global say they will be creating the three largest commercial radio breakfast shows in the UK, with 4.8m, 3.7m and 2.7m listeners respectively each week.

But it means a reduction in locally produced programmes, with more than 100 jobs at risk due to the changes.

Ofcom has approved the move following a change in guidelines for local radio.

Capital will launch their network breakfast show first in April, with Heart and Smooth following later in the year.

  • Capital London's breakfast show will replace 14 breakfast programmes on the Capital network in England, Scotland and Wales
  • Capital will have nine drivetime shows (including London, Liverpool, North East and Yorkshire) instead of the current 14
  • Heart will have a single breakfast show across England, Scotland and Wales instead of the current line-up of 22 breakfast shows
  • Heart will carry 10 drivetime shows instead of the current 23 separate drivetime shows
  • Smooth will create a new national breakfast show replacing breakfast programmes in East Midlands, West Midlands, North West, Lake District, North East, Scotland and Wales
  • Smooth's drivetime programmes will be reduced to seven

Global says local news and travel information "will continue to air on a local licence level as per legislation requirements".

But it said its news teams would see "refreshed structures" along with engineering and marketing.

Analysis by Radio Today said that 95 local radio presenters could lose their jobs as a result of the changes.

The changes will also mean the closure of broadcast facilities. The sites earmarked for closure are Brighton, Cambridge, Chelmsford, Exeter, Gloucester, Kendal, Kent, Lancaster, Norwich and Swindon.

Global's revamp is likely to be replicated at its biggest commercial rival, Bauer, which owns stations like Kiss, Absolute and Magic.

The companies have been given the go-ahead by broadcasting regulator Ofcom, which relaxed its rules on how and where stations make their programmes last October.

Stations still need to apply to change their formats, and Ofcom has published a number of approved format changes for Global Radio stations across the UK.

Ashley Tabor, Global's founder, told staff the news at a meeting on Tuesday and said it "would mean change".

Yet he also said "the ability to lead the commercial radio sector's next huge step, and to properly compete with BBC Radio 1 and 2 at breakfast time" was "a huge opportunity".

'Travesty'

Meanwhile, Labour's deputy leader Tom Watson - who is also the shadow culture secretary - said the announcement was a "terrible blow".

He added: "The loss of more than 100 local radio jobs across the country is a travesty and particularly damaging at a time when local news is already under extreme pressure.

"Replacing local voices with London-based presenters will be a terrible loss to communities across the country."

Many big-name stars have yet to comment on the news, but some station staff have given their reaction.

BBC Berkshire presenter Paul Coia tweeted his support for his fellow radio professionals.

Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk.

Related Topics

More on this story