BOSSES at Manx Radio say they are ‘hugely disappointed’ that staff are to be lost as part of a restructuring forced by a planned cut in the government’s subsidy.
The broadcaster is funded both by the Manx Government’s annual subvention and by commercial revenue.
But from April the subvention is expected to be cut in the Budget – taking the total funding from Treasury from the current £927,000 to £850,000.
As a result, the company is consulting with staff to identify potential savings and create a new structure for the company that would ensure the station is fit for the future.
It is looking to reduce its staff presentation team from five down to one and plans for the vast majority of programmes to be presented on a freelance basis in the future, something which has become the norm in commercial radio.
The news, sales and engineering teams have all come under close scrutiny. It is expected that the number of news staff will be cut from nine to seven.
Two news editor posts – news editor online and news editor broadcast – are earmarked for closure to be replaced with a new, single news editor position. It is expected that there will be a further reduction to newsroom staff in the summer as a broadcast journalist is retiring and their position will not be filled.
Manx Radio’s chairman David North said: ‘The staff at Manx Radio are extremely talented and have been committed to delivering the best listener experience possible. It is hugely disappointing that some of our award winning team are likely to leave the station at this time and I’m sure this will come as a great disappointment to many listeners.
‘However, all listeners should be re-assured that the Manx Radio board will be doing all it can to retain the range and quality of programming that listeners have come to expect and enjoy from the station over recent years.’
Manx Radio’s managing director Anthony Pugh added: ‘It is very regretful that the company could be losing some talented and loyal individuals. However, our main objective has to be to maintain the award-winning services of Manx Radio for our listeners without further burdening the Manx taxpayer.
‘We have worked hard to ensure the majority of our programming will remain largely unchanged and we will still be offering the island business community the same excellent standards and opportunities for advertising. Our engineering team will also continue to offer first rate engineering services to commercial clients.’
He added: ‘The restructure of Manx Radio will allow the station to continue on a sure footing for the future. The station commands the premier role in broadcasting in the Isle of Man and will continue to do so.’
Last year, the station’s subvention was actually cut from £961,000 in 2010-11 to £756,000 but was bolstered by a £171,000 refund of BBC licence fee money.
This year’s figure of £850,000 is made up of a Treasury subvention of about £710,000 plus a second BBC dividend of about £140,000.
Manx Radio bosses say the proposed Budget reduction to £850,000 leaves the station around £300,000 short of where it would be, had government adhered to the funding formula approved by Tynwald in 2006.
Subject to the 2012-13 Budget being approved by Tynwald, the savings will have to be identified and implemented by Manx Radio by March 31 this year.
• The latest figures released by Rajar show that Manx Radio had a weekly reach of 40,000 in the last quarter of 2011, which works out at 58 per cent of the potential audience. On average, listeners spent 11.7 hours tuning in per week.