At least 70 more jobs are to be axed as The Times and Sunday Times look to cut 10 per cent from the titles’ budgets in an effort to stem what one of the newspapers’ editors described as “unsustainable losses”.
With newspapers recording barely any uplift in sales over the course of the General Election campaign, and with News International due to introduce its paywall for its titles’ websites some time in the next month, today’s announcement had been widely anticipated by insiders.
Pre-tax losses for The Times and Sunday Times in the year to June 2009 increased to £87.7 million from £50.2 million the year before.
Times editor James Harding wrote to his staff today, explaining the need for 50 voluntary redundancies. The Sunday Times is seeking up to 30 redundancies in a parallel exercise. Sources suggest that sport will come in for particular attention on both titles.
Today’s announcements follow the report by sportjournalists.co.uk, where four senior sports desk staff are being made redundant at the Wapping tabloids, The Sun and News of the World. It is also understood that the News of the World is to scrap its Wales edition, affecting several sports staff and regular stringers.
A similar scaling back of a regional edition is being planned for Sunday Times Scotland.
At The Times today, Harding told staff that management had started a process to “cut costs, reduce our losses and free up resources for the future of our journalism.
“We are looking to reduce our editorial budget by approximately 10 per cent.”
Harding said that the company could not rule out compulsory redundancies. “Until we know the exact number of people who will be leaving voluntarily we will not know what the number of compulsory redundancies might be.
“While a voluntary redundancy programme will slightly extend the period of uncertainty, I hope that in these difficult times it will create some opportunities for people who choose to leave our business.
“Our losses are unsustainable. We cannot ensure the long-term future of this paper and our futures in journalism if we cannot make a viable business out of The Times.“
At the Sunday Times, management is seeking to cut £4 million from its budget, with estimates of at least 20 job losses from an editorial staff of about 400. Scotland is expected to suffer particularly in this round of cut-backs, with plans for the operation’s existing 15 to 20 staff to be shrunk to a bureau of just four reporters.
Just two years ago, Rupert Murdoch, accompanied by Scotland’s first minister Alex Salmond, opened a £56 million press hall near Glasgow.
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