Richard Desmond’s Channel 5 will relaunch its news output next year with on-air reporters editing their own footage.
5 News is making more than a third of its news staff redundant – including all editors and newsroom staff – in a fresh bid to cut costs at the broadcaster.
About 16 staff are being made redundant as part of changes to the Channel 5 news output, which will see some on-air presenters edit their own footage and the introduction of “low-budget” cameras.
The redundancies were announced to staff after ITN won back the contract to produce 5 News from Sky News. ITN will take over the daily bulletin, fronted by presenters Matt Barbet and Emma Crosby, in February 2012.
ITN said most of the redundant staff would be replaced but in different roles. “We’ve always said the majority of 5 News staff will be transferring to ITN,” a spokesman for ITN said. “We are currently in consultation with the workforce as we reconfigure roles on the service. As with any change, ITN does have different working practices to other news producers and we are supporting staff through this process.”
Some 5 News cameramen are understood to be furious after being told that their job title would be changed to “video journalist”, which incorporates a broader range of editorial duties, and given what they claim are low-budget cameras. Some on-air reporters will edit their own footage.
“They’ve been given old [Sony] EX1s,” said one 5 News insider. “They were told that they’re award-winning cameras – but that’s only because they’re used in war zones.”
The 5 News budget for international coverage is also understood to have been squeezed, with foreign coverage next year restricted to the US presidential election.
Desmond was expected to make sweeping changes to the 5 News budget after he bought the terrestrial broadcaster for £103.5m in August last year.
Channel 5 and Sky News had held on/off discussions over the past year to cancel the agreement – thought to be worth £9m a year – as Desmond sought to cut the cost of 5 News. ITN’s new deal is thought to be worth considerably less.
A focus on lighter news and the introduction of the entertainment news magazine spin-off OK! TV – which was scrapped last week after just nine months on air – followed 80 redundancies at the network, in a clearout some compared to the brutal aftermath of Desmond’s Express Newspapers purchase, which saw 130 staff made redundant 11 years ago.
Josh Halliday guardian.co.uk
HDW : Once again we see the rot setting into UK independent television with staff being made redundant for a do it yourself news output, not just as bad as CNN but skilled professionals out of a job is bad news in my books.
There is a mention of replacing some of the staff in different roles which is no bad thing but the cameramen are now to be called video journalists is a joke.
The Sony EX1r I presume as EX1s are now discontinued will produce great broadcast footage at 35Mbs its only the BBC that have some hang up about everything in HD land must be 50Mbs or more.