STAFF at STV, including several main presenters for the station, walked out of its Glasgow headquarters yesterday during a union meeting to protest at the company’s decision to shed 59 jobs.

John MacKay, Bernard Ponsonby and Raman Bhardwaj were among the big names who were in an office branch meeting of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) after STV announced the closure of STV2. It also announced the end of the Edinburgh edition of its flagship news programme.

The staff moved their meeting outside the company’s headquarters on Clydeside, with NUJ Scottish organiser John Toner issuing a statement: “Today’s announcement to cut 59 jobs across STV news and STV2 is a devastating blow to the staff who work tirelessly to provide some of the best news and current affairs programmes in Scotland.

“The loss of 34 jobs in news and the closure of STV2, with the ending of the flagship ‘STV News Tonight’ Scottish and international news programme, will lead to a massive reduction in the breadth and depth of news coverage viewers in Scotland currently enjoy.”

He added that the decision to end STV2 “is no reflection on the abilities or professionalism of the staff”.

Toner continued: “We also find it bizarre that the Edinburgh edition of STV News at Six will cease and will be replaced with a 10-minute opt.

“The NUJ will work with STV management to try to reduce the number of redundancies required, and we are resolved that compulsory redundancies will be strongly opposed.”

STV appeared to partly blame the upcoming launch of the new dedicated BBC channel for Scotland, even though – as The National reported yesterday – its launch has been put back to February next year.

Simon Pitts, STV chief executive, said: “As a result of the challenging economics of local television and anticipated increased competition from BBC Scotland, we have taken the difficult decision to close our loss- making STV2 channel to focus our future content investment on STV and the STV Player.

“Given how quickly news consumption is changing it is vital that STV evolves to stay competitive, and we are therefore launching a comprehensive change programme – STV News 2020 – that will see us invest in skills, technology and digital as well as delivering cost savings.”

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “It is disappointing STV is cutting jobs and closing its second channel only a year after it was launched and at a time when it is important the Scottish perspective on local, national and international news is reflected by our broadcasters.

“We note the broadcaster’s commitment to re-invest the £15 million resulting from these changes in a stronger production business, new original content and in digital.

“As a government we will continue to support the sector to seize new opportunities such as the current bid for Channel 4 to locate to Glasgow.”

Scottish Labour’s culture spokesperson Claire Baker said: “This is a devastating blow for staff at STV and the wider creative and media industry. It will stick in the craw for many that the news was delivered as part of cost-cutting measures from a CEO that was awarded a ‘golden hello’ of over £800,000.

Scottish Conservative spokeswoman Rachael Hamilton added that the cuts were a “hammer blow to broadcasting in Scotland, and to journalism here more generally”.