ITV (LSE: ITV) is making about 30 percent of its ITV.com content team redundant, paidContent:UK has learned – despite Michael Grade pledging to focus on its core website. Head of content Marc Webber (pictured) is taking voluntary redundancy – and won’t be replaced – along with about 10 team members. It’s understood they were unhappy that some compulsory cutbacks would leave the operation with only skeleton content staff.
Departures include factual editor Ian Francis, lifestyle editor Anna Bailey, CITV editor Greg Taylor, drama editor Rory Batho, movies editor Matt Ogborn, music editor Kelli Redmond, picture editor Hailey Lerner, two duty editors Ian Davies and Hannah Verdier plus a part-time employee. The content team produces about two thirds of ITV.com output – the rest from independent commissions from the likes of FremantleMedia and from the digital productions team at ITV Productions, part of ITV’s global consumer unit. It’s understood those commissions will continue, but there will be fewer of them.
The departures fly in the face of ITV’s announcement last month, when it said it would try to sell Friends Reunited and Scoot and close ITVLocal.com, but concentrate on ITV.com as a “premium” entertainment destination. It’s becoming clear that, rather than include original web commissions, as promised in 2007’s turnaround strategy, much of ITV.com output will, in fact, depend on video repurposed from TV shows – Grade has spoken with admiration of BBC’s iPlayer, which does just that, and has seen video views for his own ITV Player increase, too.
ITV.com is understood to be trying to fill two lifestyle posts to increase This Morning content, but has struggled to appoint from within, where some staff are instead understood to have opted to leave, disgruntled with cutbacks. Sport output will be affected, too, with little exploitation of the rights ITV4 has for Guinness Premiership rugby highlights, leading to a “barren” patch for the site.
The closure of ITVLocal.com is coming with the loss of about 50 jobs across UK regions, and jobs are also being lost among the “geeks” in ITV’s technology team, with head of technology Steve White among the exits.
An ITV spokesperson pointed to ITV’s March announcement of 600 job losses, adding redundancy consultations are underway that are due to complete in June. Marc Webber joined ITV in January 2008 after being Sun Online assistant editor and having stints at ThisIsMoney.co.uk, Press Association, BBC and FT. He was hired along with online commissioning editor Kate Bradshaw, working under then-ITV.com MD Annelies van den Belt.