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Major restructure, redundancies for News Limited

June 20, 2012

SYDNEY: Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited today announced a major restructure to consolidate its Australian operations, merging its print and digital businesses with an unspecified number of job losses.

While not saying how many positions will go, chief executive Kim Williams reaffirmed the company’s commitment to its newspapers, such as The Australian, saying: “We believe in print and are committed to print.”

Under the plans, News will cut its operations in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria states from 19 to five divisions, “adopting a one-city-one-newsroom strategy”.

It will also collapse News Digital Media into its general operations.

Williams said he wants to leverage the group’s scale as a national publisher by centralising editorial content and commercial functions such as sales, marketing, finance and administration.

“Today we are announcing major initiatives that will see us invest and innovate to maintain our position as Australia’s leading media company,” said Williams, who took over the top job last December.

“By putting customers and innovation at the heart of what we do and by investing in our future we will continue the transformation of News into a truly multi-platform powerhouse.”

Earlier today, News made a US$2.0 billion takeover bid for rival tycoon James Packer’s majority-owned Consolidated Media Holdings, which is focused on subscription television.

News, which controls 70% of the country’s newspapers, also acquired Australian Independent Business Media, which publishes the successful Business Spectator and the Eureka Report.

Its announcement came just days after rival Fairfax announced 1,900 jobs would go and paywalls on the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. Both will shift from broadsheet format to a tabloid size.

Williams said his company continued to see value in its print operations, despite being hit by advertisers and readers migrating to the Internet.

“We still sell around 11 million newspapers a week. Advertisers still find huge value in print,” he said.

He declined to put a number on redundancies, although The Australian said the cuts were believed to be less than those announced by Fairfax.

“At this stage we cannot say how many roles will be made redundant as full details will be resolved with the implementation,” Williams said in an address to staff.

“Although there will be retrenchments, many roles will be retired through natural attrition.”

AFP

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