Another 40 jobs go as Sky closes its Auto channel

 

Up to 40 jobs have been cut at BSkyB’s satellite channel for the car industry just one week after the broadcaster announced cutbacks affecting more than 30 staff.

Visage, the independent company that produces programming for the the subscription-only Automotive Channel, told journalists and technicians that they were to lose their jobs on Tuesday when Sky took it off air.

Among those losing their jobs are at least 14 journalists, including the executive producer and the news and feature editors.

The broadcaster has also brought the Pub Channel in house, turning 30 Visage staff into Sky employees.

But members of the Visage team who worked across both channels face a less certain future, although some have been told they will be able to apply for Sky jobs.

A journalist on the Automotive Channel, which launched in October, told Press Gazette it "never really got the commitment it deserved". He added: "When I started I was told Sky’s commitment was limitless, but that wasn’t the case at all." The latest cuts follow last week’s announcement that Sky News was cutting up to 36 posts and axing its half-hour features as well as its business unit. Sixteen more jobs have been cut in the new media division.

Staff were told that the half-hour features and specials were being dropped and that production would end within the next few weeks. Up to 10 redundancies are expected, as the other journalists and presenters could be offered jobs within Sky News. Staff have opted for joint negotiations with management to discuss their futures.

Axed programmes include the daily Your Call, Sportsline and Business Report and the weekly Technofile, Bookshow, The Week in Review, Showbiz Weekly and Answer the Question. Media Monthly is also being axed.

Head of news Nick Pollard said the changes were part of a strategy aimed at boosting its news coverage. In a memo, staff were told that research had shown that viewers wanted more news.

The cuts come against a backdrop of BSkyB announcing losses of £365m during the first nine months of its financial year and follow 300 redundancies as a result of integrating loss-making interactive service Open with the mainstream Sky operation.

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