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Papers feeling pinch

Scotsman owner puts staff on furlough, cuts salaries

Papers seeing sharp falls in advertising

JPI Media, owner of The Scotsman, Yorkshire Post and Falkirk Herald, is putting 350 employees on furlough and cutting the salaries of those who continue working by up to 15%.

Employees were told this morning that cutting salaries would help safeguard jobs.

Chief executive David King said 250 sales staff and 100 other employees will be put on furlough “in light of the significant reduction in advertising volumes”.

Sources say 60 of those affected will be journalists and photographers.

The company, headed by a consortium of hedge funds, was formed from the ashes of Johnson Press and also owns titles such as the Sunderland Echo and Sheffield Star.

Mr King said this would last for at least three weeks “but most likely for two months and possibly longer”.

Employees who remain at work will receive a temporary pay reduction for three months from April to June.

The publisher is using a tiered system which will mean anyone earning under £18,000 will not receive a reduction in pay. Everyone else will have no reduction of their first £18,000 earned, a 10% reduction on earnings between £18,000 and £40,000, and 15% after that.

King and the other directors will take a 20% cut on their entire salary, while any planned pay rises across the company will be deferred for at least three months.

He said: “As you are probably aware, the local and regional newspaper industry has seen a sudden and steep reduction in advertising order volumes which is having a very significant impact on our revenues.

To support the business and safeguard jobs during this uncertain period we need to make difficult decisions

– David King, JPIMedia

“In addition, newspaper circulation revenues have been adversely hit by store closures and lockdown restrictions. Our print contract customers are similarly affected by reduced newspaper sales volumes.

“To support the business and safeguard jobs during this uncertain period we need to make difficult decisions to control costs and preserve cash.

“Whilst we are addressing all costs in the business and looking for savings wherever we can, our staff costs are the biggest single component of our cost base and regrettably we do need to make savings in this area.”

The publisher last week halted printing at 12 local print titles, in the south and north east of England the North East.

JPI Media owns more than 150 regional newspaper titles across England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It recently sold its only national title, the i newspaper, to the Daily Mail and General Trust.

Newsquest, which publishes about 200 brands including The Herald, The National and Evening Times in Glasgow, is placing a “significant number” of its staff on enforced leave and cutting the wages of those who remain.

A number of other titles have furloughed staff, including City AM, the London free daily which has stopped printing 85,000 copies of the paper and also suspended its digital edition.

The Evening Standard has reduced its print run to 500,000, has suspended publication of its magazine and put a number of staff on paid leave. It is delivering to homes for the first time in response to a sharp fall in the number of commuters, who would normally pick up a copy at stations and in the streets.

Sales of national newspapers are said to have fallen by as much as 30% since the start of the government-imposed coronavirus lockdown because of the closure of retail outlets and lack of commuters.

PA Media, formerly the Press Association, has confirmed 44 of its journalists covering sport and racing will be put on paid leave.

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