Australian Media Groups Are Rocked by Job Cuts, Following Lapsed Meta Deal, Slowing Economy

Mike Sneesby
Nick Moir

Nine Entertainment, Australia’s largest media conglomerate last week announced plans to cut 200 jobs. It blamed a weak advertising market and the non-renewal of a news content deal with Meta, the U.S. giant that operates Facebook and Instagram. It also follows scandals over alleged misbehavior by staff.

That is a pattern that follows other media conglomerates in Australia.

The Murdoch family’s News Corp. Australia last month announced a A$65 million ($43 million) cost-saving program. It too blamed the commercial environment and Meta. As a result, several senior executives are to lose their jobs and the group will be split into three divisions.

The Kerry Stokes-controlled Seven Media said earlier last week that it will seek A$100 million of cost savings, cut 150 jobs and also split itself into three parts.

Roughly half of the Nine lay-offs will are to come from its publishing businesses, with 38 from television news and current affairs and the remainder from digital and head office. Australian media has reported that Stan, its wholly-owned streaming platform, is currently not affected by redundancies.

Nine CEO Mike Sneesby told staff that the company was “not immune to the economic headwinds impacting many businesses globally.” The Australian economy may be stalling. While unemployment remains low at around 4% of the working population, economic growth rates are marginal and interest rates have been raised 13 times since May last year.

Amid arguments about which party was the greater beneficiary of links to news media content, Australia famously enacted legislation in 2021 that required major social media groups such as Meta and Google to pay local media for its use of news content.

The News Media bargaining Code requires the platforms to strike individual deals with media companies or risk having a regulator step in and set a price. Meta and Google signed deal, but Meta says that it will not renegotiate the current agreement.

Australia’s traditional media groups have been hit by successive scandals.

Nine chairman Peter Costello resigned last month after an alleged scuffle with a reporter at Canberra Airport. Costello denies the claim.

In March, the group’s news head Darren Wick quit after allegations of alleged “misuse of power and inappropriate behavior” in the news room. A subsequent investigation found staff trauma.

“Recent reports that detail alleged serious failings of leadership in television news clearly tells me more works needs to be done to ensure we have a safe and inclusive workplace throughout Nine,” said Sneesby in May.

In recent days, News Corp. is understood to have dismissed journalist and on-screen presenter Paul Kent, following a street brawl.

And, over several months of court hearings in a defamation case, the Spotlight investigative news team of Seven Media, was alleged to have paid rent for and allowed spending on drugs and prostitutes for former Liberal Party political aide Bruce Lehrmann. Seven was not the defendant in the case and separately issued a statement that said it was “appalled by the allegations made in recent days. We do not condone the behaviors described in these allegations. They do not reflect the culture of Seven”

From Variety US