The ink has barely dried on Seven West Media’s acquisition of News Corp’s Sunday Times, but the company has already announced job cuts to staff in bid to deal with the tremors of Australian publishing.

“An unstable economic environment and changes to the media industry have presented many new and greater challenges for our organisations,” he said in the staff email,” West Australian Newspapers chief executive officer Chris Wharton told staff in an email yesterday.

“As a result of those challenges, we face increased pressure to transform the way we operate to secure our future.

“It is imperative that we effectively manage our costs to ensure long-term viability and growth.

“These changes will mean a number of positions across the organisation will become redundant

“Every effort will be made to redeploy affected staff to other positions across the business, however opportunities will not be able to be found for everyone and some employees will end their employment with us.”

The email was short on details. It’s not clear what positions are being affected, or how many staff could go. Downsizing usually follows mergers, but rarely this quick. After all, the whole deal is still subject to ACCC approval.

In its submission to the ACCC, the media union said the merger would create a one-paper town, and greatly reduce media diversity in Perth. It urged the regulator against the acquisition, saying other ways could be found to cut costs for both publishers without both Perth papers being owned by the one company.

“We believe the sale will lead inevitably to job losses for our members and increased workload for those that remain in the Editorial sections of the consolidated operation,” it read. The ACCC is due to release its position on the merger on July 28.

Peter Fray

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