The ructions inside News Limited have continued with the resignations of two senior executives — Head of Strategy and Corporate Development and REA board member Diana Eilert and NewsLifeMedia chief operating officer Tim Sligo.

The exits add to CEO Kim Williams’ clean-out of Holt Street loyalists, including Greg Baxter, Peter Macourt, Sandra Hook, Steve Howard, Sue Klose and Carsguide managing editor Ged Bulmer.

As foreshadowed by Crikey in January, Nicole Sheffield — formerly head of XYZnetworks’ group of LifeStyle Channels — was appointed last week as head of NewsLifeMedia, replacing Hook.

Sheffield will inherit a gleaming suite of offerings including the revamped and She’s been here before — the Lifestyle and Food channels run by her were originally developed by her predecessor.

Meanwhile, the media giant’s transformation continues apace, with insiders reporting a looming rationalisation agenda in some regional outposts. They say redundancies are possible in some country centres as the company moves to centralise non-core assets like TV and entertainment magazines and web and advertising operations.

The Gold Coast, Geelong, Hobart and Townsville operations are seen as potential targets with key inserts to be written and produced centrally with a few local pages if necessary.

On the Glitter Strip there are fears the advertising team might be rationalised, with the majority phone-driven operation centralised in Brisbane. About 70% of Coast revenue is said to be written over the phone.

Money-losing web teams will also undergo centralisation — in Queensland, could gradually subsume the regional websites and in Victoria may trump the Geelong Advertiser and Leader sites.

In NSW, the future of the Cumberland websites is complicated by the ongoing tug of war between the The Daily Telegraph and web teams.

One News mole explained the rationale: “News Limited economists can’t see its regionals ever being the cash cows they once were, hence the drastic  action to redraw the business plan. They know any circulation claims are on the back of discounted bulk deals so are taking the shears to the provinces as they build their future on the capital cities and on national brands.”

News spinner Stephen Browning confirmed Eilert and Sligo’s departures but declined to comment on the company’s broader corporate strategising.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey