Five set to ax 25% of staffers

Layoffs part of new restructuring plan

LONDON — Around a quarter of staffers at RTL’s British terrestrial web Five look set to be pink-slipped.

The scale of the job losses emerged as the broadcaster announced a restructuring plan designed to boost efficiency and profitability.

CEO Dawn Airey, who took over at the web last fall, warned that up to 87 of her 354 employees face the ax in what she called “one of the most difficult financial environments in history.”

She said, “I am confident we are putting in place a new, streamlined structure that will ensure we remain the most agile and effective commercial broadcaster in the country. Unfortunately, the restructure raises the prospect of some positions being made redundant.”

Several key departments will be integrated including a new creative unit incorporating marketing and creative services functions.

All channels are under “stringent cost management,” allowing investment to be focused on those areas of the schedule, including primtetime, which generate the most revenue.

However, Five is lobbying for a merger with Channel 4, the state-owned pubcaster funded by advertising, a strategy that has raised doubts over its future as a stand-alone web.

While all U.K. ad-funded webs are struggling in a catastrophic market, Five is believed to be the worst hit of the main terrestrial channels.

Media buying agencies calculate that advertising revenue at Five is likely to be down 20% in the first quarter.

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