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Singapore Press Holdings

The Straits Times and The Business Times tipped to merge teams

Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) is tipped to be having major changes to its newsroom. In an internal memo seen by Marketing, editor-in-chief Warren Fernandez revealed that The Business Times (BT) and The Straits Times Business (ST) will form a combined business team for content.

The new team will be tasked with supplying business content to ST, BT and a new financial radio station being launched.

Marketing has reached out to SPH for comment.

The new business content team will be led by Wong Wei Kong, who retains the role of BT editor. Meanwhile, Lee Sushyan will be the ST Business editor, and deputy to Wong on the combined business team. Ven Sreenivasan will take on the role of executive editor (radio), tasked with leading efforts to develop content for the new financial radio station. Sreenivasan will also lead efforts to promote the publication’s content and brands on its three English radio channels.

The memo also revealed the formation of a new content marketing team in the pipeline, with Murali Subramaniam, deputy managing editor of SPH’s English/Malay/Tamil Media group (EMTM) being the main point of contact. Subramaniam will be responsible for tracking all staffing, recruitment and retention issues across the group, as well as budgetary and operations matters.

This follows announcements of the retirement of Alvin Tay, currently managing editor of SPH’s English/Malay/Tamil Media group (EMTM), a role he took up in November last year.

Replacing him is Sumiko Tan, currently executive editor, who will assist Fernandez in spearheading the move towards greater collaboration across newsrooms. The memo added that she will oversee the new EMTM digital and visual teams.

Tay will stay in the company for a few more months to aid with the transition period and will focus on EMTM Inc, which includes sponsorships, branding, events and business development teams. Meanwhile, Lilian Ang, BT Inc editor, will work on growing sponsorships and events across ST and BT business and lifestyle pages. Subramaniam will grow sponsorship revenues in the sports and news segments across the group.

All appointments will take effect on 1 November 2017.

The move follows recent job cuts which saw SPH bringing forward its full 10% staff reduction plan by the end of this year. According to BT, the job cuts affect 230 jobs, where 130 will be retrenchments. The move resulted in a wage bill that may decline 8-9% as a result, the BT report added. SPH did not respond to Marketing’s queries at the time.

Ng Yat Chung, CEO of SPH, added in a press statement that the company is expected to incur retrenchment costs of approximately SG$13 million in the current quarter. This includes restructuring the newsrooms and sales operations, reducing 15% of staff in core media divisions. The company had a headcount of 4,410 at the end of August, a TODAY report said. The report added that there were no plans to discontinue any newspapers in the company’s print portfolio.

The job cuts were revealed following SPH’s report of its results for the financial year which saw a 13% yoy drop or SG$108.8 million in revenue for its media business. Advertising revenue was down 16.9% or SG$102.5 million, while circulation revenue saw 5.1% dip, or SG$8.7 million, when compared to the year before. This was for the financial year ending 31 August 2017.

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