Multi-platform news business ITN is having to re-think its online business model and restructure its digital division after ITV (LSE: ITV), one of its biggest digital clients, said it would cancel its contract to receive online news reports from the firm. Guardian.co.uk reports that the ITN On digital division will stop supplying text news to the site’s news section on July 22 — and as a result it will merge its text and video news teams, with four jobs lost.
ITV says it will simply link to ITN.co.uk stories until its news section is relaunched; plans are afoot to revamp regional coverage through the relaunch of ITVLocal.com, despite the broadcaster ending its local PSB broadcast coverage in 2012. But it’s another blow for ITN which was forced to lay off 60 staff after the collapse of Irish sports broadcaster Setanta — the company was contracted to provide content for the Setanta Sports News channel.
An ITV spokeswoman told us that ITV.com would still receive ITN text and pictures covering national and international news as part of a separate, long-running content deal which covers online and expires in 2012. But ITV news staff would be responsible for arranging, re-writing stories and re-packaging video footage — previously the job of the five dedicated ITN On staff who now lose their jobs.
ITN On MD Nicholas Wheeler (via Guardian.co.uk) told staff in a memo that the contract was canceled as part of the vast savings being sought by ITV in the face of its worrying advertising revenue shortfall. He added “The loss of this contract represents significant revenue hit for ITN On, and means that we have to review the online operation to see how we can best deliver text stories to our remaining online clients. I’m afraid the loss of posts within the team will be unavoidable.”
In theory, the recession should be good news for agencies and massive broadcast and digital content providers like ITN that are poised to fill in the gaps left by reporter redundancies and restructuring on Fleet Street and in TV companies. It offers online video, text news and a vast, perhaps unrivaled broadcast archive all for a price. But the deals it signed with clients in the good times can’t be sustained in the bad — ITV can no longer afford to pay pre-recession rates and just as ITN grew to match clients’ demands, it must now shrink to match their financial uncertainty.