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Seven asks staff to take 20 per cent pay cut

“We find ourselves in an extraordinary and challenging situation,” he wrote. “We all need to work together to ensure that our people and our business can get through the next few months. To do so, we need to make some changes designed to ensure that we can continue to offer employment to as many of our people as possible.

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“Despite all these measures, due to the significant impact to the business, some job losses will be inevitable. None of these measures or decisions has been taken without deep consideration.”

Mr Warburton added that the cost-saving measures may need to extend beyond the current financial year.

“Please note the executive team will also be subject to the salary reductions and are required to continue to work at full capacity during this time,” he said.

A Seven spokeswoman declined to comment. Sources at the commercial broadcaster, who asked not to be named, said the pay cuts would not apply to staff on enterprise bargaining agreements.

“Our newsrooms are pretty heavily unionised so that means most journalists are exempt,” one staff member said.

Another source said: “Of course no one is welcoming a drop in salary, but in my team at least, everyone has been taking the news pretty well. We’re more worried about having a job in six months’ time than having to absorb a pay cut right now.”

The cuts come a week after the company withdrew its earnings guidance due to the impact of COVID-19 on advertising spend and as the company proceeds with the sale of its magazine arm, Pacific, to Australian Women’s Weekly publisher Bauer Media.

Seven was already under immense financial pressure before COVID-19 and had been working to lower its $541 million net debt pile. Late last year, Mr Warburton announced a major cost-cutting exercise which saw programs such as Sunday Night axed.

The company has since tried to sell off its production arm Seven Studios and Seven Digital Ventures and has stalled production of children’s content and drama. It has also offered to sell the Big Bash League back to ViacomCBS’s Network Ten.

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Apart from the sale of Pacific, Seven is expected to benefit financially from the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

A number of other media companies are under increased financial pressure due to coronavirus. Last week, outdoor advertising business oOh! Media launched an emergency capital raise, while Southern Cross Austereo announced all staff earning $68,000 or more would have their remuneration reduced by 10 per cent for six months.

News Corp executives are also taking large pay cuts and are moving staff to part-time and nine-day fortnight arrangements. Nine, the publisher of this masthead, this week announced a range of savings measures designed to strip up to $266 million from its cost base.

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