IPC to cut 90 jobs as axe falls on three top websites

Sly Bailey

 Ninety staff will lose their jobs at IPC as a result of the closure of three of the company’s best-known websites, unmissabletv.com, Beme.com and uploaded.com

The announcement, which comes just weeks after the $1.15bn agreed takeover by AOL Time Warner, follows a strategic review of IPC’s online activities. Although AOL Time Warner has axed more than 1,000 jobs in its US online operations, IPC said the move was unconnected.

IPC’s group strategy director, Julian Drinkall, refused to say how many journalists were affected but said most of the job losses would be in technology and ad sales.

"All three sites produced good traffic but that does not necessarily translate into good revenue," he said.

Sly Bailey, IPC chief executive, said: "The media landscape has changed considerably. Two years ago, investment and confidence levels in the internet were over-inflated. Now, the reality is very different and media organisations are adopting greater commercial realism in their forward plans."

IPC has spent £44.5m on its online development since 1999, attracting many top journalists, including Eleni Kyriacou, former editor of New Woman and Looks, who was executive editor of the Beme.com website, and Sarah Woodhead, former editor of fashion title Menswear.

Most of the staff on Beme.com left on Friday after being given just one day’s notice. Kyriacou, who resigned before the redundancies were announced, is planning to freelance.  The cutbacks have angered many staff who claim they were promised fresh investment, which was not forthcoming.

One source said uploaded.com, had been operating on a "pitiful amount", relying heavily on contributions from the magazine’s staff because the budget wasn’t big enough to afford additional freelances.

"This reeks of desperation and the punters can sense it," he said. "There are so many advertising, marketing and promotional people who have no consequence with the editorial output, sucking up money. It is just ridiculous. It is the people who produce the goods – the real workers – who are treated with contempt and subjected to an ever-increasing roll of difficulties."

Drinkall said staff were made aware of the review and had entered into appropriate consultations with the staff council. Voluntary redundancies were being considered and IPC was trying to find alternative jobs for the staff involved, he said.  Mike Sherrington, magazines organiser of the NUJ, said he had written to Bailey, pointing out that the union was the appropriate body for consultation given that some staff were NUJ members.

IPC will now focus on its remaining six websites linked to the publications NME, Country Life, Horse and Hound, Decanter, Web User and Yachting and Boating World.


By Ruth Addicott

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