Axe falls on more than half of Channel M staff

MEN Media has told staff at its TV station Channel M that more than half their jobs are at risk.

Channel M chief executive Mark Dodson read out a statement to staff this afternoon which revealed that due to the economic downturn the station could not exist in its current form and jobs would have to be cut across the board.

Press Gazette understands that the channel is seeking to make 41 redundancies out of 74 staff. If the total cannot be met by volunteers, compulsory cutbacks will be considered.

According to one source close to the channel, losses are currently said to be running at £200,000 a month.

To cut the losses, live broadcasting is to be limited to one daily three-hour news magazine programme from 4-7pm. The remaining output will consist of pre-recorded packages.

The job losses are expected to take affect by 1 July, with the change in output occurring on 18 May.

The channel is continuing with its bid to widen its audience by going on to Freeview in November.

In a statement, MEN Media said: “The changes come as local and regional media companies face intense pressure due to the combined effects of the recession and structural changes in their markets.

“Channel M’s revenues have been severely affected in recent months, and it is now making significant losses.

“Like many other publishers, MEN Media needs to reduce its costs substantially in order to become more sustainable as a business, and last month announced a number of changes, including redundancies, designed to achieve that.”

Dodson said: “These further redundancies at MEN Media are deeply regrettable but, in the current climate and in the context of wider changes in our industry, they are unavoidable.

“The company continues to believe there will be a successful future for local TV in the UK. Channel M will continue to broadcast, and we reserve the option to restore aspects of the schedule should economic circumstances improve.

“We will also carry on our discussions with government, regulators and other industry players. Through the DDR (Digital Dividend Review) process Channel M now has a future on Freeview.

“Furthermore, recent reviews by Ofcom and the government have raised the possibility of consortia of organisations – including regional press publishers – bidding to provide regional broadcast news.

“We will continue to explore the potential of this progressive idea, and remain in a strong position to take advantage of such opportunities as they develop.”

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