This week could prove to be a signal time in the future of the British media.

Just as the UK economy and banking and finance sectors are following the US into steep decline, so to is the country’s media, broadcast, print and radio, which is seeing the same sort of assault on jobs, revenue and earnings than the UK sector is experiencing.

Thousands of jobs are going from newsrooms, from circulation and technical departments to ad sales and beyond.

The BBC ITV, Channel 4, and Virgin Media will sack almost 7000 people over the next couple of years. The BBC 3000 alone, ITV 1000 and Virgin media more than 2000 from its pay TV business and associated magazines.

Overnight Tony O’Reilly’s Independent News & Media, which has 39% of APN in Australia on the market, took the axe to costs at the Independent papers in London and revealed a 25% cut in jobs.

INM is looking to save 10 million pounds, or around $A22 million. The UK operations of INM will sack 90 employees by early next year out of a total of 424 staff in its London office with the bulk of the cuts happening (around 60 jobs) coming from 250 strong editorial staff.

The UK Press Gazette in London has estimated about 140 jobs per week have been cut in daily newspapers since July, with regional papers hardest-hit.

And the group which owns the Daily Mail is expected to unveil tomorrow night plans to save 30 million pounds ($A68.6 million) with about 300 jobs expected to be cut, notably at its London paid-for and free dailies the Evening Standard and Metro.

The Financial Times reported that the Guardian News and Media, in the latest reports of its privately-held parent Guardian Media Group, recorded a loss of £26.4 million.

This story from a blog at the UK Press Gazette has some horrible stories, and a graph to go with it. The Gazette also carried this story quoting a just resigned senior News Corp executive.

“The outgoing chairman of News Corp’s European business, Marty Pompadur, has warned that the economic downturn will have a “very, very ugly” effect on the media – and could force some companies to put themselves up for sale.

“Pompadur, who resigned from the News Corp board last week after more than 10 years as one of Rupert Murdoch’s closest lieutenants, told the European Media Leaders Summit in London that the impending recession would be “pretty deep and pretty long”.

“As I look at what’s going on globally, in the United States, Europe and the Middle East, it’s very, very ugly,” he said yesterday.

As stock values tumble, Pompadur predicted that a small number of media companies would change hands.

“If a company has a lot of debt they’re in trouble,” he said. “Companies that are diversified with several different profit centres have a better opportunity.

“Those companies that are private or controlled by families have a better opportunity to survive in this kind of environment and prosper.

“I think there will be some companies that are forced to sell because they can’t meet their debt obligations, but I don’t think we’re going to see a lot of them.”

Peter Fray

Get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for $12.

Without subscribers, Crikey can’t do what it does. Fortunately, our support base is growing.

Every day, Crikey aims to bring new and challenging insights into politics, business, national affairs, media and society. We lift up the rocks that other news media largely ignore. Without your support, more of those rocks – and the secrets beneath them — will remain lodged in the dirt.

Join today and get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for just $12.

 

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW