There are more rumours of impending job cuts eminating from the Nine Network’s Sydney headquarters today, after a reported meeting of department heads yesterday. Reports suggest the cuts could be as large as 20%, which could mean the loss of around 180-200 jobs in Sydney alone, and even higher if casuals and freelancers are involved.

The story from inside Nine today is that executives have convinced Kerry Packer to cut now rather than later in the year when the problem will be deeper. Packer has been reluctant to cut programs because of the intensity of the battle with the Seven Network for ratings supremacy.

As revenue continues to slow, with a downturn becoming quite noticeable since Easter, Nine has been looking at costs for the past six weeks since a management confab at Byron Bay. Non prime-time shows have been canned or postponed, all discretionary spending for new proposals has been stopped, and spending on existing programs is being subjected to intense scrutiny.

Expenses have been slashed for staff and the Network’s new number-two, Ian Audsley, has been moved from Melbourne to run the cost-cutting program at HQ. It is believed that the costs could be more noticeable among news and current affairs programs, which have swelled their staff numbers in the past two years.