COVID cuts more than 30,000 jobs in media, information and telecommunications

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Australia’s media and telecommunications industry has lost more than 30,000 jobs since the coronavirus pandemic took hold to put additional financial pressure on an already struggling industry.

The local media industry was hit by widespread job losses between March and June of last year due to the sharp decline in advertising spending. New research from economist Jim Stanford, on behalf of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), shows that less than a quarter of the jobs lost returned as of November 2020, with the remaining losses likely permanent.

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Canadian economist Jim Stanford has revealed the impact of COVID-19 on Australia’s media, information and telecommunications sector.Credit:Dominique lorrimer

“The report clearly shows that years of disruption, undermining and neglect have left Australian journalism and journalists in a fragile state,” said MEAA Media Federal Chairman Marcus Strom. “This crisis is most severe in regional and rural Australia and in the suburbs of our major cities, where hundreds of jobs have been lost in the last year alone.”

The data, which appears in a report by the Australia Institute’s Center of Future Work, shows that between February and May, 24,000 jobs were lost in the internet, media and telecommunications industry (which includes newspapers and broadcasters, data and streaming services and telecommunications). Another 6,000 jobs in the sector were lost between May 2020 and May 2021, bringing the total to over 30,000. Of all the jobs lost between February 2020 and May 2021, 9,600 were in the publishing industry and 6,600 were jobs in the broadcasting industry. The report is based on data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Mr Stanford, director of the Center for Future Work at the Australia Institute, said that while some jobs were lost due to the foreclosure restrictions and have since returned, trading conditions for other parts of the industry meant the losses would be permanent. The breakdown of job losses between media and telecommunications is not disclosed, but the data is the first to show the widespread impact of the pandemic on the sector.

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Nine Entertainment Co (owner of this banner), Seven West Media, oOh! Media, Southern Cross Austereo and Prime Media Group all withdrew their profit guidance last year due to the significant drop in advertising. Magazine and newspaper titles at News Corp and Nine have been suspended, while outdoor advertising activities oOh! Media and Southern Cross, which owns regional television and radio assets, raised capital.

But the pandemic has also resulted in widespread job losses. Foxtel laid off more than 200 employees between May and June last year while the shutdown of more than 100 print editions of newspapers resulted in more than 500 job cuts at Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Seven West Media and Network Ten have also removed roles while magazine editor is The media have removed hundreds of roles by shutting down titles such as Harper’s Bazaar and OKAY!.

Stanford’s research also shows that the publishing industry saw the largest number of job cuts in the industry between 2007 and 2019 – around 28,000 jobs. This compares to an increase of 4,000 jobs in broadcasting and an increase of 12,000 jobs in film and sound.


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