Fresh spending and pay cuts at FT despite 50,000 new sign-ups during Covid-19 crisis

The Financial Times is cutting its spending on non-staff contributors and implementing further cuts to pay and working hours as it continues to “navigate through” the coronavirus downturn.

The newspaper has seen 50,000 new digital subscribers sign up as the Covid-19 crisis developed over the past two months, with “historic highs” coming nearly every week online.

But FT chief executive John Ridding told staff today that further temporary savings were needed so the publisher can guarantee its “mission beyond this storm” and protect the jobs of all staff.

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All non-editorial staff earning £50,000 or more will see a ten per cent reduction in both working hours and salary from 1 July until the end of the year “at the latest”.

In editorial, the equivalent savings are being made in a more flexible way “due to the nature of the editorial budget and the relentless demands of 24-hour coverage”, editor Roula Khalaf said in a follow-up message to staff.

This includes reduced spending on outside contributors, “careful management of staff numbers”, and some voluntary measures such as part-time working.

Khalaf (pictured), who took over as editor in January, said: “I am optimistic that this is achievable. It will not be painless and will involve valued outside contributors. I thank them for the sacrifice.”

The new pay cut does not apply to those who were already impacted in the first round of savings implemented last month.

Ridding took a 30 per cent pay cut and his fellow board members took a 20 per cent pay cut. The paper’s top 80 managers and editors took a ten per cent pay cut until the end of the year.

Ridding previously told staff that “even if economic activity rebounds later in the year, we still face a revenue gap that stretches into double digit millions and which we need to manage”.

In his message today, Ridding said the growth in audience and experimentation with new digital advertising formats and events did not “offset the falls in other revenue streams”.

But he said they “reinforce our determination” to keep investing in the areas that will ensure the business can grow beyond the coronavirus crisis.

He added: “Above all, the savings measures we have implemented allow us to focus now on our growth strategies and to sustain the momentum of the FT at a time when our journalism and our mission have never been so important.

“We expect these savings to be sufficient for us to navigate through this storm, and don’t expect to take further steps in relation to pay.”

Picture: FT

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