Rupert Murdoch’s worldwide corral of newspaper titles are undergoing a round of belt-tightening as fears grow of a slowdown in advertising growth.

The move follows yesterday’s revelation at a New York media conference by NewsCorp president/chief operating officer, Peter Chernin, that a block had been imposed on new hirings [WAMN: 07-Dec-00].

A similar ban on recruitment is now in place at the Wapping, London, headquarters of News International, Murdoch’s UK publishing unit, where executives are said to be increasingly concerned about advertising prospects in 2001. In addition, the company has capped spending on hardware and imposed new restrictions on expenses.

Not only are British executives concerned about a decline in adspend, they expect to see newsprint prices rise in the year ahead and there are fears of a general economic slowdown triggered by diminished growth in the USA.

Says one unnamed NI executive: "In the pre-Christmas period, we have broken records in advertising revenue … but if there is going to be a very hard landing, then it is prudent to be ready for that."

News source: Financial Times