City AM suspends print and cuts salaries as coronavirus hits business

City AM has suspended its print edition from today and will cut staff pay by half in April in drastic measures to cope with the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

The financial freesheet is reliant on commuters picking up its 85,500 daily copies at train stations and key locations around London – and advertisers paying to reach its readers.

But with so many people now working from home and the UK Government advising against all non-essential contact and travel, stations and streets in the capital have been deserted.

The temporary print suspension will last “until our readers start returning to the capital”, the title said.

Current measures being undertaken to slow the spread of the virus could last another 12 weeks, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said.

According to an email to staff from City AM chief executive Jens Torpe, most advertisers in London are cancelling bookings, meaning the paper has “no income to pay for our costs”.

Torpe said in a statement: “We have served London’s business community with a daily paper for fifteen years, pausing our print-run only on public holidays.

“Now, with so few people commuting into the capital and with advertisers understandably withholding their campaigns, it seems we must hit pause again.

“The coming weeks will not be easy, for anyone, but the board of City AM is clear that the print product will return, and that in the meantime our digital operation will continue uninterrupted, responding to unprecedented online traffic.

“We will continue to produce our newspaper and host it on cityam.com and we will resume the print operation as soon as it becomes viable to do so.”

City AM will continue to produce a “full” e-edition of the daily paper and host it on its website alongside rolling news coverage.

There will be no redundancies as a result of the changes, but Torpe said the group would implement a “range of measures to reduce our costs while we plot a course through the crisis”.

Management will also be affected by the 50 per cent salary cut in April.

Torpe told staff: “We are extremely sorry having to implement these measures but this is unfortunately the only way forward if we want to preserve the company until things are back to normal.”

Editor Christian May tweeted: “It’s a great shame that @CityAM is pausing its print operation, but it’s the right thing to do.

“Life in London has changed so much, so quickly, that we must adapt if we are to survive. And we will survive.”

A City AM insider told Press Gazette: “This obviously sucks, but our business model basically evaporated overnight. What are you going to do?

“We are a small ship, so we were first to be swamped. But it is hard not to see this repeated across the industry. It is going to be really, really shit.”

City AM’s print distribution was down seven per cent on Wednesday morning, compared to two weeks prior.

The decline was seen in Canary Wharf and central London, but pick-up outside the capital was said to be at “normal levels”.

Read all Press Gazette’s coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and the news industry here

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