CONCERNS were aired yesterday over the output of Scotland's main independent radio group after the company was taken over by an English rival in a pounds-391m deal.

Scottish Radio Holdings, which began life as Radio Clyde in 1973 and expanded into a multi-media operation from its headquarters at Clydebank, has agreed terms with Peterborough-based Emap.

An initial pounds-374m offer had been turned down. However, Emap confirmed yesterday that the SRH board had agreed to its latest 1088p per share bid.

The firm also said it had agreed to sell SRH's local newspaper operation, Score Press, to Johnston Press for pounds-155m.

Although the Emap purchase had been widely trailed, political leaders questioned the media giant's commitment to retaining the Scottish identity of its stations, which have strong listening figures in their mainly urban heartlands.

Their misgvings were fuelled when Tom Maloney, chief executive of Emap, said: "There will always be a Glasgow office for Emap Scotland's radio assets.

But, of course, it will be a slimmed down operation because we don't need a corporate headquarters."

Mr Maloney declined to reveal how many jobs might go, but he indicated that the corporate back office and London advertising sales operation of SRH would be hardest hit.

However, he added: "I believe that five years from now the biggest radio station in Glasgow will be Radio Clyde, run by a managing director in Glasgow. And you can replicate that statement for Forth in Edinburgh and Tay in Dundee.

"This transaction enables us to create the highest quality independent local radio business, reaching all the UK's major conurbations and delivering a strong position in the Republic of Ireland."

Politicians with a nationalist leaning were highly sceptical.

Jim Mather, SNP spokesman on the economy, said: "The SNP is a pro-enterprise and pro-wealth creation party.

However . . . a decreasing number of Scottish autonomous companies makes it hard for Scotland, which has low growth, low incomes and population decline.

"We have no wish to see the free market distorted. However, it's becoming increasingly prevalent that a branch of the UK economy takes over a company such as this."

Colin Fox MSP, national convener of the Scottish Socialist party, added: "It is certainly a good deal for the shareholders with a close-on 10-per cent premium on the share price, but the worry has to be that the distinctive Scottish character of SRH's stations will be lost to a world-wide company that is interested solely in profit.

"The emergence of worldwide communications monopolies bringing us global branding will wipe out the distinctive localised media that people identify with."

His views were echoed by Chris Ballance MSP, the Scottish Greens' spokesman on the media: "Scottish media companies are increasingly being swallowed up by companies that are either London-based or based outwith the UK. It is crucial now more than ever before that we have indigenous companies that can cater for Scottish audiences within the context of a devolved Scotland.

"I hope that this takeover does not serve just the shareholders, but that Emap also recognises the value of their journalists and of the various diverse radio and press outlets that SRH have operated so successfully up until now."

Labour officials were less pessimistic, saying: "We hope the current commitment to local news coverage will continue across Scotland, and the new company can draw on the strength of its Scottish roots."

A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives added: "Until we see if they propose any changes to content, it would be wrong to comment. The company provides an excellent service.

Shareholders have the right to sell, but as far as any consequences on the output goes - we shall see."

At Clydebank, David Goode, SRH chief executive, was predictably upbeat, at least in public. He said the combination of Emap's radio business with SRH's network of 22 highlyrated stations would create a strong national radio group with exciting prospects.

Emap's existing broadcasting operations include national radio stations Kiss, Kerrang and Magic, along with television station The Hits. However SRH is already one of Scotland's most successful media companies.

The venture started with a prayer shortly before midnight on Hogmanay 1973. "May God bless the good ship Radio Clyde and all who travel with her, " said the Rt Rev Andrew Herron across the airwaves.

As it turned out, the Lord did the business. Now, it's not so much a ship, more a shipping line. For more than 30 years, Radio Clyde has been the sound of the west of Scotland.

Likewise, its 21 sister stations, including Radio Forth in Edinburgh, Radio Tay in Dundee, and NorthSound in Aberdeen, have reflected the tastes, interests and the patter of the regions they serve.

When Clyde took to the air, it was only the third commercial station to be launched in the UK (and the first in Scotland). Significantly, it broke into modest profit within a year, at a time when national stations were struggling even to achieve revenue stability.

Operating initially from the since demolished Anderston Centre in Glasgow, Clyde was a hit from day one. Here was a radio station which, for the first time, not only spoke for the local community. It spoke like the local community.

In 1974, there simply was no authentic voice for Scotland, let alone Glasgow, in the broadcast media. Radio started with BBC Radio 1 and pretty much ended with Radio 4 - unless you could negotiate the often distorted route to Radio Luxembourg.

Within days, Clyde had attracted a fiercely loyal audience with ratings figures that other stations could only dream of. Bill Forsyth once said that he chose to stay in Glasgow because of Radio Clyde. Billy Connolly described it as one of the greatest things that happened to Glasgow.

Along the way, the station introduced some of the top names in broadcasting: Dougie Donnelly, Richard Park, Tiger Tim Stevens, Jackie Bird, Hazel Irvine and Andy Park all cut their teeth at Clyde.

The broadcasterwas the cultural reference point for the city and beyond. Indeed, the broadcaster itself went beyond, literally, in 1983, when it moved premises to Clydebank.

Radio Clyde arrived in the town almost by default when Glasgow District Council failed to agree terms for land for a purpose-built studio. The station quickly became the jewel in the crown for Clydebank Business Park, which had risen from the derelict Singer site.

For more than 20 years now, Clydebank has been justly proud of its connection with the station. The arrival of Radio Clyde, with its beautifully designed and landscaped building, proved to be the turning point for the business park. As other major companies followed suit, the town became the most successful enterprise zone in Britain during the eighties.

Now, with a new owner at the helm, the future is uncertain.



Based: Clydebank Launched: 1973 Presenters include Tiger Tim, George Bowie, Billy Sloan, Gina McKie and Gavin Pearson. The late Jimmy Mack continued to broadcast on Clyde after being diagnosed with cancer, and stopped just two weeks before his death.

Famous export: Richard Park, headmaster of BBC1's Fame Academy, and Edith Bowman of Radio 1 (now you know why he was easy on her when she was a contestant on the show)


Based: Edinburgh Launched: 1975 The station split frequencies in 1990 to become Forth FM and Max AM. In 2002, they were rebranded to become 1548 Forth 2 and 97.3 ForthOne.

Presenters include Grant Stott and Vicky Pitchers.

Famous export: Mark Goodier, presenter of Radio 1's Top 40 chart rundown on Sundays for more than seven years, and the voice of the chart rundown on Top of the Pops.


Based: Dundee Launched: 1980 Presenters include Euan Notman, Jeff Diack, Sharrel Carroll and Dave Connor.

Famous export: Eddie Mair, presenter of Radio 4's PM programme, and Stephen Jardine, presenter of Scottish and Grampian TV's flagship Seven Days.


Based: Aberdeen Launched: 1981 Presenters on Northsound 1 and Northsound 2 include Andy James, Griegsy and John Mellis.

Famous export: Nicky Campbell, now better known as the face of the consumer on Watchdog, began his rise to world domination here.


Based: Ayr Launched: 1981 Since 1997, Westsound has effectively run three radio stations - West FM 96.7, Westsound 1035 (Ayrshire), and Westsound 97FM (Dumfries). Earlier this year, it won the Gold Promo at the Sony Awards - the only commercial station from Scotland to win at the radio Oscars. Kenny Campbell, Jack Bennie and Gary Marshall are presenters.

Famous export: Jakki Brambles rose to the dizzying heights of GMTV's Hollywood reporter after starting at the station.


Based: Inverness Launched: 1982 Presenters include Tich McCooey, Nicky Marr, Ken Kelman, David Strachan and Heather Paterson.

Famous export: Former DJ Brian Anderson was in China during the 1989 Tiananmen Square unrest, broadcasting to expats.