Media24 to cut 400 jobs as it mulls over closing five print edition newspapers

South African media giant Media24 has announced plans to close the print editions of five newspapers, while converting three of the titles into digital-only brands.

This is according to a statement released by the company.

The last publication date for the newspapers that will be closed is 30 September 2024.

The company says they will start consultations with staff, which will be completed over the next three months.

The transfer of the sold businesses to its new owner will take place this week.

Media24 chief executive Ishmet Davidson says the proposed restructure could result in the loss of at least 400 jobs while 400 other positions will be transferred to Novus Holdings.

“We also intend to reduce our corporate and support services and operational costs in line with the changes made in our business,” Davidson says.

Media24 say that their planned interventions are as follows:

– Closure of the print editions of five newspapers including Beeld, Rapport, City Press, Daily Sun and Soccer Laduma, as well as the digital editions of Volksblad and Die Burger Oos-Kaap and the digital hub SNL24.

– Evolving Rapport, City Press and Daily Sun into digital-only brands.

– Selling media logistics business On the Dot and the community newspaper portfolio to Novus Holdings which will be subject to regulatory approvals.

“In South Africa, like elsewhere in the world, consumer preferences have changed. People now read more news than ever, but most prefer to do so on their cellphones or laptops and publishers have to comply with their preferences,” Davidson says.

“Consequently, print media globally has been suffering structural declines in circulation and advertising for decades. Combined with rising fixed distribution costs, this has had a devastating impact on print operations.”

According to Davidson, newspaper titles in the northern region have life support for some time while combined losses are expected to rise to R200 million over the next three years.

However, over the past financial year, their combined subscribers grew by 19% year-on-year to more than 200 000.

Davidson says after years of cut-backs, they have reached the end of cost reductions to try to save these print operations and have to restructure the business.

Rapport and City Press as digital brands will stay with Netwerk24 and News24, respectively.

Readers and subscribers of the Beeld, Volksblad and Die Burger Oos can use News24 for news.

Davidson says they will be closing SNL24 to focus their two digital news brands.

SNL24 interests will be sold in the profitable local newspaper sector.

“Daily Sun (part of SNL24) represents an important segment of the middle market, that we will continue to serve with the relaunch of the brand as a standalone and free e-news site,” Davidson says.

Die Burger and Son in the Western Cape will not be impacted by these changes.

According to Media24, these two titles have a separate infrastructure that remains viable due to a more concentrated local footprint and are marginally profitable.

Media24 will also be divesting its media logistics business, On the Dot.

“We are fully committed to managing this highly sensitive consultation with compassion while following the processes prescribed by law and intend to keep job losses – particularly among our journalists – to a minimum,” Davidson says.

“Unfortunately, we cannot share any further details until the process has been concluded.”

– IOL Business

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