Two months after Newsquest bought Berkshire Media Group it has announced plans to outsource subbing and production to Southampton, Newport and India.
Six jobs are to be cut following the production changes. Meanwhile a further, seven jobs – across management, news, sport and photography – are set to go at the Newsquest-owned Oxford Mail and at other titles in Oxfordshire. Two photography positions are at risk of redundancy at Newsquest in Bournemouth.
The proposed production job losses at BMG come after Newsquest bought its owner Romanes Media Group in May. Berkshire Media Group publishes titles including the Reading Chronicle, Bracknell News and the Slough Observer.
An email sent to staff by BMG’s operations director Tina Wright said: “In order to improve operational efficiency within the Berkshire production business and reduce costs, we are notifying you of our proposal to dissolve our production function from its regional base. This proposal affects you all in that we propose to outsource the production of adverts and move to a centralised function.
“In the event that the production function does transfer out of Berkshire, the work you currently produce will be picked up externally in India and internally within Southampton and Newport, therefore the company is proposing to make your roles redundant.
“As a result of this proposal a new role of media support officer may be developed to be based in Berkshire. I will notify you should this be created as to what this will entail and you will be able to apply.”
According to Holdthefrontpage, a new media support officer role has been created as part of the plans, and an 11-day consultation period with staff has now begun, with a final announcement expected to be made next Monday.
HTFP also said that Southern Daily Echo editor Ian Murray – who took on responsibility for three further Hampshire titles in February – has assumed “editorial oversight” of six titles in Berkshire.
The Oxfordshire job losses come after 25 jobs were put at risk by Newsquest in the county, as well as in Wiltshire, in October last year as part of a subbing hub move.
Laura Davison, NUJ national organiser, said: "It's another summer of sackings at Newsquest. Once again they are cutting vital editorial jobs in Oxford and with absolutely no plan of how they will be able to operate with the remaining staff.
"Long serving staff with decades of experience are getting the chop and once again photographers are in the line of fire. It’s all about propping up profit margins.
"US parent company, Gannett, reported a 2013 profit of £52.8m and was able to pay chief executive Gracia Martore more than £7.5m. We are also deeply concerned that Newsquest is outsourcing its advert production to India; this is a very worrying development."