Global Radio has revealed its plans for the Heart Network, with 15 broadcast centres to be created and an investment of £7m in facilities.
Stations will co-locate and share programming within defined Ofcom territories, local (regional) breakfast and drive-time shows will stay and local news is to be extended to on the hour throughout the day. Mercury Radio and Ten 17 will also become part of the Heart network.
Global Radio says it will carry out a restructuring of personnel and investment in local facilities, programming and local news to create fifteen "centres of broadcasting excellence," which will start next month, with the work expected to be complete by the end of the year. The local sales teams will also be enhanced, with large-scale investment into brand new systems and hardware.
It is not known at this stage exactly how many jobs will be axes because of the move, but one newspaper has speculated up to 200 people could be affected.
The new facilities will be formally opened next year and will serve the largest commercial radio audience in the UK, currently sitting at 7.4million listeners per week.
Founder and Global Group CEO, Ashley Tabor said: “The Ofcom statement enables commercial radio to organise itself more efficiently and take advantage of new technology to enable our people to work smarter. Although this has meant some brave decisions for our business, these changes considerably strengthen our company by providing listeners with higher quality programming and our customers with a far superior service.”
The move comes after Ofcom's recent consultation and statement on Commercial Radio Regulation, published earlier this year. The regulation which enables stations to co-locate and programme share within specific Ofcom defined territories, follows the passing of the Digital Economy Act in April this year.
Thanks to Joey Deacon on [link=http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/forums/showpost.php?p=41136682&postcount=64]Digital Spy[/link] for this breakdown:
Heart West Midlands (based in Birmingham) – remains the same
Heart Sussex (based in Brighton) – currently Heart Sussex in Brighton and Crawley-based Mercury FM, which rebrands
Heart West Country (based in Bristol) – currently two Heart stations in Bristol and Somerset
Heart Cambridgeshire (based in Peterborough) – currently two Heart stations in Peterborough and Cambridge
Heart Essex (based in Chelmsford) – currently two Heart stations in Chelmsford and Colchester plus Ten-17FM in Harlow, which rebrands
Heart Devon (based in Exeter) – currently five Heart stations in Torquay, Plymouth, South Hams, Barnstaple and Exeter
Heart South Coast (based in Fareham) – currently two Heart stations in Bournemouth and Fareham
Heart Gloucestershire (based in Gloucester) – remains the same
Heart Kent (based in Whitstable) – remains the same
Heart FM (in London) – remains the same
Heart Home Counties (based in Milton Keynes) – currently four Heart stations in Northampton, Milton Keynes, Bedford and Dunstable
Heart East Anglia (based in Norwich) – currently two Heart stations in Norwich and Ipswich
Heart Thames Valley (based in Reading) – currently two Heart stations in Reading and Oxford
Heart Wiltshire (based in Swindon) – remains the same
Heart North West & Wales (based in Wrexham) – currently four Heart stations based in Bangor, Birkenhead, and Wrexham
Heart East Midlands will continue to broadcast under the ownership of Orion Media.