A regional publisher is planning to sell its city television station – placing jobs at risk.
Archant says it has not been able to generate “sufficient” revenues to make a profit from Norwich-based Mustard TV, and is aiming to sell its shares in the channel to the That’s TV Group in exchange for a minority stake.
That’s TV, which currently operates 10 local TV franchises in England, has indicated it will not need current Archant staff to continue in their roles.
However, Archant says it is currently aiming to avoid redundancies “where at all possible” by trying to find affected employees positions elsewhere in the company.
A memo to Archant staff from chief executive offer Jeff Henry, which has been seen by HTFP, states: “Since its launch in March 2014, Mustard TV has made some great, local and innovative television. Its combination of local daily news, business, current affairs, local entertainment has won it many viewers and supporters.
“The local television market is difficult however, the audience reach for Mustard is restricted by the licence we operate under, and the revenues we are able to generate have not proved sufficient to enable us to make a profit since the station launched.
“I have consistently said that the success of local Television will come from consolidation which can bring the right mix of shared investment and skills needed to make this financially viable; we simply can’t afford this on our own.”
Jeff added: “That’s TV operate their channels using a different staffing and operating model than the one we use in Mustard, with a greater use of shared and freelance resources across their network.
“If the proposal goes ahead they have indicated they will not need the current Archant staff to operate the Norwich station but we are seeking where at all possible to avoid making redundancies by retaining as many employees as we can within Archant by finding alternative roles.”
If the proposal goes ahead, it is anticipated the sale will be completed in September.
It is understood That’s TV will broadcast from Archant’s Prospect House headquarters for one year after completion of the share sale, but that, operationally, the Norwich station will work closely with its new sister channel in Cambridge.
An Archant spokesperson said: “We are proposing to sell Mustard TV to That’s TV Group, in exchange for a stake in the That’s TV Group business.
“We have consistently said that the success of local TV will come from consolidation and are excited to be a minority shareholder in a company with a significantly larger portfolio of local licences.”