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Nine Entertainment axes 200 staff on eve of Olympics following Meta deal collapse

Australia’s beleaguered commercial broadcasters continue to haemorrhage staff as Nine Network today confirmed it has implemented an operational review in order to cope with the “cyclical challenges facing media companies.”

Mike Sneesby

In an internal message to staff this morning, Nine Entertainment CEO Mike Sneesby confirmed speculation that 200 staff – or 5% of the total workforce – would be shed from across the media company that owns Nine Network. The majority of the job losses will come from the publishing division, but with TV and digital units also affected.

By close of business today, however, unionised Nine staff had passed a no-confidence motion in Sneesby and the Nine Entertainment board.

Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) members at Nine Publishing orchestrated the meeting immediately after the cuts were announced in the midst of negotiations for a new enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA), the union claimed. They have authorised their union to immediately commence preparations for a protected action ballot.

MEAA acting director Michelle Rae said union members at Nine were angry that redundancies had been announced during the critical bargaining time for a new EBA and that the print division had been disproportionately targeted for cuts.

“With the current agreement expiring on June 30, members will be voting on whether to take protected action at the earliest possible opportunity. Nine management has not put a serious offer on the table,” she said.

In his message to staff, Sneesby had affirmed that while seeking cost-cutting measures, the media company would continue to “invest in the digital opportunities that are driving growth across our business.”

But he declared that the network was “not immune to the economic headwinds which are impacting many businesses globally. In order for us to be able to keep investing in digital growth opportunities across Nine, we must continue to responsibly manage costs through the cycle.”

While conceding that “Nine generates a higher proportion of revenue from digital and subscription sources than any other Australian media company and wehave a balance sheet that reflects that success,” he claimed that “in light of recent market events we are reviewing key parts of our business to identify further potential savings.

“We are also in the process of identifying further savings including in our digital and broadcast businesses. An operational review of these businesses is underway andwe will update you with further details about what this means for you and your teams in the coming weeks,” Sneesby told the 5,000 Nine staff.

Sneesby described the initial job cuts as an offset to the loss of revenue from a collapsed multi-million-dollar commercial deal with online giant Meta, in addition to challenges in the advertising market.

The warning of further revenue declines comes at a time when the network should be cresting in commercial success as it is poised to broadcast the Paris Olympics in July across all its platforms including television, streamer Stan, publishing, digital and radio.

Sneesby told staff: “The games will be a showcase of what a truly integratedmedia company can deliver to every Australian and our advertising partners.”

Meanwhile, the MEAA union acknowledged that the cuts were in part a result of Meta’s decision not to renew deals under the News Media Bargaining Code, but urged Nine and other affected media companies including Seven West Media and News Corp to look elsewhere for savings.

“We will do all we can to support our members during this difficult time and advocate for media organisations to protect journalism by looking for other options to make savings. If Meta continues to refuse to negotiate new deals, then it must be designated by the federal government.”

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