Fox Sports and Sky News cut staff at Fox Sports News

• Less hours for sports channel with focus on shows, weekends

Many staff at Fox Sports News were told on Wednesday afternoon that they were out of a job after News Corp cut the number of hours the channel will be broadcasting.

While exact details of the cuts and new broadcast times are yet to be revealed, The Australian reported the decision could result in 20 redundancies. The News Corp newspaper reported the focus from now will be on morning sports bulletins and the programs NRL Tonight, AFL Tonight and Cricket AM.

Nearly three years ago Fox Sports News was moved out of the Fox Sports family and into Sky News Australia in a move that was not clearly explained. Since then the channel has moved from Fox Sports HQ in Artarmon to Sky News at Macquarie Park before eventually settling at Surry Hills in the News Corp Australia HD where it took over the former studio of Sky News Business and Your Money.

The decision about the change of strategy comes on one of the biggest sporting news days for some time as sports fans awaited a decision on the future of the AFL 2020 season.

The Fox Sports News ratings have not been spectacular for the sports news channel. While that might not have been a game changer in times of prosperity, it seems to have led to this decision in times when the ad market is crumbling.

Quoted in The Australian, Sky News CEO Paul Whittaker said the decision to pull back on Fox Sports News might be the first of some tough decisions still to come: “[The] decision results from trends in viewing away from peak times in recent years, and an industry-wide softness in the advertising market rather than the coronavirus. It is too soon to determine what the long-term effects of the pandemic may be on the industry as a whole and our business.

Fox Sports chief Peter Campbell said: “I must reiterate Fox Sports News is an incredibly important brand to Foxtel and Kayo providing premium sports video content for our own digital assets including and our social media, as well as across the News Corp masthead websites. Fox Sports News content will also continue to be available on Sky News channels, on Qantas in-flight and the Sky News international service Australia Channel.”

Campbell added in a statement: “We are constantly reviewing our channel line-up to ensure our programming reflects what our customers want to watch and when they want to watch it. As a result, we are making some changes to the programming on Fox Sports News effective at the end of this month.

“Customer viewing now peaks in the morning and evening with low daytime viewership, therefore we are going to focus on delivering live sports news and the channel’s marquee programs, including AFL Tonight, NRL Tonight and Cricket AM, during those peak periods.

“Unfortunately, less live sports news programming will mean a number of redundancies from the Fox Sports News team. Where possible we will seek to redeploy employees across the Foxtel group.

“The decision is not about the coronavirus and its impact on sport. It simply reflects fewer viewers, particularly away from peak times – and the very soft advertising market.”

Among Fox Sports News staff to announce their departure from the channel are reporter Daniel Garb, Adelaide reporter Josh Money, Perth reporter Josh Garlepp, reporter and producer Carly Adno, producer Andrew Peake, presenter/reporter Natalie Yoannidis, and reporter Mark Gottlieb.

Fox Sports News cut the show Bill and Boz with Bill Woods and Mark Bosnich earlier this year. Bosnich remains with Fox Sports as an analyst, but Fox Sports News didn’t renew Woods’ contract.

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