The more boring the subject line, the more important the email?

News Corp’s staff were first thing this morning sent an email by the company’s executive chairman Michael Miller (subject line: “News Corp financial results for first quarter 2017”), letting them know formally that some of their jobs were for the chop, as the company embarks on another round of cost-cutting. And that the business is likely to be more stringent with the expense accounts.

Yesterday’s results, which revealed print ad revenues down 11% in Australia, show that “print remains a very powerful platform of unique influence and authority while digital development enables us to build for a robust future”.

But Miller wrote that News Corp, like everyone, is experiencing “challenges”, and to offset them needs to implement “a series of cost initiatives”:

“In the short term, this will begin with an immediate review of all vacant positions with the aim of closing positions that are not absolutely critical. We will also introduce new business rules in relation to travel and entertainment costs.

“In the mid-term, we will consider changes to our business to ensure we work harder and smarter and move resources into areas which will deliver the most value to the business. In shaping more efficient structures, there is the possibility of a redundancy program.”

Staff within News Corp have been given little indication on the size of the redundancy program, if it comes to that. And there is a covert down-sizing program going on at News Corp all the time. While few redundancy rounds are formally advertised at News Corp, the company is quietly letting journalists go all the time, without replacing them. It appears News Corp is keen on saving what it can from not filling vacant positions.

News Corp announced A$40 million in cost-cutting for the Australian operation, as part of a larger global belt-tightening in its print assets. Crikey yesterday wrote that the figure, given at a results briefing by chief financial officer Bedi Singh, was US$40 million — on which we were wrong. — Myriam Robin and Glenn Dyer

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey