MTV, a Finnish commercial television broadcaster owned by Sweden’s Telia, will reduce its headcount by more than 20 and discontinue the production of radio news and teletext services by next spring.
The number of redundancies may yet change if staff members turn down transfers to new duties, the company said in a press release on Thursday.
The measures were agreed on during consultative negotiations launched on 15 August. The broadcaster estimated at the time that it would need to make up to 45 redundancies for financial, operational and corporate structure-related reasons, but it managed to bring down the number by decreasing the use of external labour and converting full-time contracts into part-time ones.
The objective of the negotiations was to accelerate the implementation of its new strategy, which places greater emphasis on digital know-how, streaming services and targeted ads.
MTV has reported heavy losses in recent years, including nearly 19.8 million euros in 2022, 20.3 million euros in 2021 and 28.2 million euros in 2020. The company has attributed the operating losses to factors such as inflation, the coronavirus pandemic, the high cost of broadcasting rights for sporting events, and Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine.
Helsingin Sanomat in August reported that Finnish commercial media has been struggling for some time.
Kaleva Media in March announced it will lay off 49 staff members and dump Sunday’s print edition of Kaleva. Hilla Group, the publisher of a number of local and regional newspapers including Keskipohjanmaa, reported last spring that it will make 15 staff redundant.
In August, Keskisuomalainen revealed a plan to trim the editorial calendar of several subscription-based print newspapers, such as Forssan Lehti, Etelä-Saimaa, Iisalmen Sanomat and Kouvolan Sanomat.
Kai Telanne, the chief executive of Alma Media, stated to Helsingin Sanomat at the time that the announcements are not surprising but rather the consequence of long-term trends in the media and advertising space. The acute economic uncertainty witnessed in recent years, he added, has made advertisers even more cautious.
Although Alma Media, which publishes Iltalehti, Kauppalehti and Talouselämä, operates 82 per cent in the digital space, Telanne is not ready to sound the death knell for print.
“As long as there are print subscriptions, it’ll continue to be put out but at the same time the print run will be reduced. It’s not only a question of ad sales, but one of constantly rising costs and subscriber numbers for print newspapers, which are dropping by 5–10 per cent also at Alma,” he told.
The market for digital ads is tough particularly for smaller news outlets.
“It’s no wonder that Iltalehti at Alma and Helsingin Sanomat and Ilta-Sanomat at Sanoma bring in the most ad revenue,” said Telanne.
Heikki Hellman, an adjunct professor at Tampere University, viewed in an interview with the newspaper that advertisers have simply moved to platforms where they expect their target audiences to be in future, as evidenced by the apparent disconnect between the loss of ad revenue and viewership of MTV.
“[MTV’s] news are too valuable a piece to lose from the perspective of a diverse news offering,” he said.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT