The Telegraph is preparing to stop publishing branded content as it responds to the impact of Covid-19 on advertising revenues.
Press Gazette understands fewer than 100 non-editorial roles could be lost as the newspaper plans to focus instead on long-term partnerships that tie in with its subscription-focused strategy.
The Telegraph’s creative commercial content unit, Spark, will deliver any branded content deals that have already been booked by the end of this year before it wraps up its work – this can include articles, videos, maps and interactive games.
Telegraph chief executive Nick Hugh told staff in an email, seen by Press Gazette, that the plan had been to move away from branded content in 2021, but this was brought forward because of the impact of Covid-19 on the advertising market and this type of deal in particular.
Hugh said: “Instead, our focus will be on long term partnerships with brands who closely complement our quality journalism and the experience of our readers, and actively contribute towards our subscriptions-first strategy and goals.”
The Telegraph is now halfway towards its target of reaching 1m subscribers by 2023 after hitting the 500,000 mark last month.
Hugh said this short-term management of the Covid-19 impact was the “key reason” the company had been able to pay back all of the taxpayer money it used to furlough staff to HMRC.
“However, as we consider the longer-term horizon, we must continually assess how we can best support our strategy,” he said.
“Over the last three years, our entire business has been transforming to complement both our journalism and the reader experience, and in line with this commitment, we have made the decision to no longer have branded content on any of our channels.”
Affected staff have now entered a consultation process.
The Telegraph’s pre-tax profits fell by 88 per cent to £1.6m in 2018, the latest available full-year accounts, but total subscription revenues at the group were up by ten per cent.