FT to cut jobs in digital restructuring plan

LONDON Tue Jan 22, 2013 4:50pm IST

Backlit keyboard is reflected in screen of Apple Macbook Pro notebook computer in Warsaw February 6, 2012. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Files

Backlit keyboard is reflected in screen of Apple Macbook Pro notebook computer in Warsaw February 6, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Kacper Pempel/Files

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LONDON (Reuters) - The Financial Times (FT) plans to cut a net total of around 25 jobs as part of a plan to restructure the group to cut costs and focus primarily on its digital services, its editor has said.

In an email sent to staff and seen by Reuters, Lionel Barber said he would embark on a programme to "reshape the FT for the digital age". He gave no detail on where jobs would go from the FT's 600 total headcount.

"We need to ensure that we are serving a digital platform first, and a newspaper second," Barber said in the email sent on Monday. "This is a big cultural shift for the FT that is only likely to be achieved with further structural change."

The famous pink-paged newspaper has been one of the most successful titles in the move online, charging people to read its news on a metered model that allows people to read a set number of articles each month before having to pay a fee.

That approach has helped boost digital subscriptions, which exceeded print circulation for the first time in the first half of 2012.

"I am determined that we do everything we can to secure the FT's future as a world class, financially sustainable news organisation," Barber said.

"Our earlier decisions to raise prices, charge for content and build a subscription business have proven to be bold and wise.

"While many of our rivals have struggled to find a profitable business model, and have therefore announced heavy job losses, we have been industry pioneers. This is not the moment to falter."

Barber said the proposed voluntary redundancy programme would reduce costs by 1.6 million pounds in the current year. He estimated it could result in a net headcount reduction of about 25 people, or around 4 percent of the total, after the introduction of 10 more digital jobs.

The group said it would consult with the National Union of Journalists as to what steps it would take if it does not achieve the right level of take-up for the planned scheme.

The restructuring of the paper follows months of speculation as to whether parent Pearson Plc (PSON.L), the media and education group, will sell the title as it increases its focus on education and away from assets reliant on cyclical advertising.

Pearson has denied the paper is up for sale.

(Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by David Holmes)

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