Ad slump claims more jobs as national press cuts staff

McCall: "advertising down £30m"

The economic downturn has taken a heavy toll of Fleet Street journalists in the past week, with the Sunday People making 12 redundancies, Guardian Newspapers announcing it is to axe 11 on The Observer and Guardian Unlimited website and Independent News & Media (UK) compulsorily dismissing six more.

At the People, some job vacancies will not be filled and a small number of full-time and Saturday staff will lose their jobs.

GNL has said its ad revenue is £30m down on the plan for this financial year. A three-year voluntary redundancy and early retirement programme announced in November for Guardian editorial and support staff, aimed at reducing numbers by 30, has been insufficient to counteract the slump, said the company.  The first 10 due to go under this scheme will leave by April but that figure is separate from the new redundancies.

GNL is now asking for redundancy volunteers across the company to reduce the head-count by 35 by March.

Twenty-four jobs are to go in the commercial department, six at Guardian Unlimited and five from Observer editorial.

GNL managing director Carolyn McCall has said: "Despite GNL’s strong performance compared to its competitors, the severe advertising downturn, accelerated by the events of 11 September, has seriously affected the company’s revenue. We anticipate that GNL will be £30m down in advertising against its plan for the current financial year."

The company has introduced a "non-automatic head-count replacement policy", but McCall admitted: "Unfortunately, the measures taken so far have proved to be insufficient."

At The Independent and Independent on Sunday, award-winning photographer David Rose, writer Steve Crawshaw, IoS deputy news editor Nicholas Pyke, Berlin correspondent Imre Karacs, Ingrid Kennedy of the Life Etc section and Robin Barton of The Review have all lost their jobs as cost-cutting bites.

Staff believe the bloodletting is close to ending and have received assurances from the company that the current redundancies will be the last for a year. To reinforce this promise, the NUJ chapel unanimously passed a resolution saying that should the management renege on the assurances before the spring of 2003, it will consider industrial action.

The papers have also terminated the contracts of contributors Chris Blackhurst and Stephen Fay.

Editor Simon Kelner said the continuing economic downturn was affecting every branch of the media "and we’re not immune to it." He added: "It is the start of a new budget year and we have to get our budgets in line."

By Jean Morgan

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