News Limited is days away from announcing major job cuts as it restructures its largely print-based publishing business to ensure its survival in a digital future.
Up to 400 editorial jobs are set to go as part of a cost-cutting program among its newspapers by chief executive Kim Williams.
While over the past six months a number of jobs have disappeared by pruning roles and a program of discrete redundancies, insiders say a ”significant announcement” of further cuts is expected next Monday.Advertisement: Story continues below http://ad-apac.doubleclick.net/adi/onl.smh.news/national;cat=national;ctype=article;pos=3;sz=300×250;tile=3;ord=3591805.0?
It is just the latest step in a slow but steady program to re-engineer News to cope better with the structural changes affecting the media industry, in which the pace of readers and advertising dollars migrating online has quickened.
It comes as pressure continues to mount on Fairfax, the publisher of The Canberra Times, with yet more criticism of the company’s strategy following the board’s decision not to give a board seat to its largest shareholder Gina Rinehart.
After initially denying reports, News confirmed last month plans to merge its weekday and Sunday tabloids into seven-day operations. Mr Williams flagged to the company’s 8000 staff that a ”structural reorganisation” was on the cards.
News is Australia’s largest publisher, with 65 per cent of total circulation of metropolitan and national daily newspapers.
News plans to move to a centralised story-based commissioning of news to publish across its papers, websites, and devices like tablets and mobile phones.
News admitted to unions last week that the ”rumours about redundancies are causing concern to staff” but said there were no plans. A spokesman for News did not directly address the issue of numbers, saying it did not want to provide ”running commentary” on its plans.
”News Limited is undergoing a substantial transformation aimed at improving our business and the quality of our products.”
He said the company would ensure any changes would be made with ”great care and minimal disruption”.
Fairfax has announced it is doubling its cost-savings target to $170 million over three years.
Days after one of its largest shareholders, Simon Marais of Allan Gray, backed Ms Rinehart’s criticism of the publisher’s board, funds manager Peter Morgan told the ABC it was ”five minutes to midnight” for Fairfax. He said the Rinehart showdown over a board seat was a ”sideshow” to the underlying situation of the company share price, which closed last week at 62.5c – a historical low.