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Singapore media group SPH to cut 10 pct of staff

October 17, 2016

Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) announced Monday that it would cut up to 10 percent of its staff following news of plunging profits, in the latest sign of tough times for global media organisations.

The Asian media giant, which publishes The Straits Times newspaper, said the cuts would happen through “attrition, retirement, non-renewal of contracts, outplacement and retrenchment” over a two-year period.

The announcement came after locally listed SPH, which employs more than 4,000 people, declared a 17.5 percent fall in profits to Sg$265.3 million ($190.8 million) in its financial year ending August 31.

Most of the losses came from its media division, which accounted for 72 percent of the group’s operating revenue of Sg$1.15 billion during the period, down 4.3 percent from the year before.

“We have had to take difficult decisions on cost control measures to improve operational efficiency. We will continue to innovate and invest in our media products to stay ahead and relevant,” said SPH chief executive Alan Chan.

The publisher of nine daily newspapers in four languages, SPH has a near monopoly of the Singapore’s print market but also has major property holdings which have helped prop up its balance sheet.

As part of the restructuring, SPH will merge two tabloids, the English-language New Paper and the Chinese-English My Paper, into a single newspaper that will be distributed free of charge.

The news comes as publishers around the world are battling to keep newspapers alive as readers turn to digital media.

The New York Times in April announced cutbacks to its Paris-based staff from 113 to 70.

In March Britain’s Guardian newspaper announced it was cutting 250 jobs in the face of persistent losses.

Also in the same month, Britain’s Independent newspaper axed its print edition, going completely online after seeing circulation dwindle to 40,000 from a peak of 420,000.

el/rc/amu

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.