Major review of SPH's core media business

The Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) News Centre at 1000, Toa Payoh North.
The Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) News Centre at 1000, Toa Payoh North. PHOTO: ST FILE

It will reduce up to 10% of workforce over two years; merge The New Paper and My Paper

Media group Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) yesterday announced a major review of its core media business, which will see a 10 per cent cut in staffing over two years, merging of titles, ramping up of its integrated marketing division and the growing of adjacent products.

As part of the review, SPH will carry out a right-sizing exercise across the group to reduce operating costs, it said in a statement.

This will involve shedding up to 10 per cent of its 4,182-strong workforce over the next two years through "attrition, retirement, non-renewal of contracts, outplacement and retrenchment", it said.

This means staff who resign, retire or end their contracts may not be replaced.

Fewer than 30 employees have been identified for retrenchment as part of the current exercise.

"SPH will work with the relevant unions to ensure that fair terms are given to affected staff and will extend to them the necessary help to support them in their transition," the statement added.

SPH is also merging free sheet My Paper and paid daily The New Paper (TNP) to form a revamped TNP.

The new daily will be launched on Dec 1 and distributed free at existing distribution points, including MRT stations, said SPH yesterday. It will also be available online.

Rumours of the merger had surfaced before the announcement. Mr Patrick Daniel, deputy chief executive officer of SPH, said the group could not announce it earlier as it was only yesterday that it got the licence for the revamped product.

The moves come after SPH conducted a five-month review of its core media businesses, prompted by the changing media landscape.

Besides the merger of the two tabloids, a new integrated marketing division was formed last month to cross-sell its advertising products in the print, radio and digital media to advertisers.

The new division will deliver solutions using data analytics for better insights into audiences, said SPH, which also publishes The Straits Times.

SPH chief executive Alan Chan said of the restructuring: "We have done a comprehensive business review to strengthen our position in a tough economic and media environment.

"Market conditions will remain difficult with the continuing disruption of the media industry.

"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," he added.

"At the same time, we will grow our business adjacencies to diversify revenue streams and maximise stakeholder value."

The Creative Media and Publishing Union, which represents SPH employees, told The Straits Times that it was told of the retrenchments and plan to cut 10 per cent of the workforce yesterday.

"We will be working closely with the management to work out fair retrenchment packages for our members and ensure that SPH practises responsible retrenchment by giving suitable notice period to affected workers," the union said in an e-mail.

On Friday, SPH reported a 17.5 per cent drop in full-year net profit. Its bottom line fell to $265.3 million for the year ended Aug 31.

SPH shares closed at $3.74 yesterday, down 2 cents.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 18, 2016, with the headline 'Major review of SPH's core media business'. Print Edition | Subscribe