With a company as big as Sky, news that staff redundancies are on the way usually rings warning bells. Quite often, staff are cut because a company is forced to cut its bills in order to generate a profit and pay back the debts it's accrued to date. Sky, though, have recently released their unaudited results for the nine months ending 31st of March, 2015, and they report strong growth and profits across all of their markets. All of which makes the news that Sky News and Sports production staff have been called into a suspected redundancy meeting all the more curious.
Sky have not told staff what is on the agenda at the "Agility and Flexibility" meeting called by the Sky Production Services director Darren Long, nor have they revealed any details on the Sky phone numbers directory. Staff have only been told to expect an "important announcement" at the meeting in Sky's Isleworth offices, and that attendance is mandatory, all of which points towards redundancies.
These changes in staffing are understood to be part of a wider change within the company, as they make a significant shift towards entertainment programming and make a broader movement towards different working patterns. Around two thirds of the Production Services staff (around 600 people) have been called into the meeting, though most are working in studios and in post-production in Sky News and Sports.
There may be other reasons for this move though. As widely reported, Sky spent an astonishingly large amount of money on retaining the rights to Premier League football, over £5.14 billion. That means, whilst Sky used to pay £6.6 million per match, it'll now be paying £11 million per match, which are truly astonishing sums. Keeping Sky's staff levels high during this three year period might prove difficult, and any streamlining and adjusting now could save them considerable pain down the line.
A spokesperson for entertainment and media union Bectu said: “People are saying, ‘Sky have spent this mega-money on football deal’, and have linked that with cuts and economic savings. Members feel worried about their future at Sky, it is a developing company and there is a lot of capital investment going on at Sky Studios, and people naturally link that type of development to economic stability. People are now concerned that their jobs and livelihoods are at risk.”
A Sky spokesperson said: “As Europe’s leading entertainment company, operating in a fast-moving industry, Sky continually reviews its business to ensure we are working as effectively as possible and providing the very best service to our customers.”
In his note attached to the recent results, Sky Chief Executive Jeremy Darroch cast a much more positive light, saying "We have delivered an excellent third quarter as customers across the enlarged Sky group respond to the quality and breadth of what we offer. In all, we attracted almost 70% more new customers than the prior year and over one million new products. By continuing the strong operating momentum of the first half, we have grown revenues by 5% and operating profit by 20% over the nine months."
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