Job losses at Murdochs' e-empire

Paper titles get their online editions back

News Network Ltd - the new media arm of Rupert Murdoch media empire -- has axed 30 people in its London office as part of a massive shake-up at the company.

Employees were told on Monday about the losses and the full extent of the re-organisation is still not known.

According to sources close to Wapping, among the casualties were marketing director, Tony Hall, and chief commerce and marketing officer, Susan Boster.

Hall is understood to be working out his notice and Boster has reportedly already cleared her desk.

The Register understands that News International's newspapers, including the The Times and Sunday Times, have already taken back responsibility for their online editions after being forced to hand them over to News Network when the new company was established earlier this year.

The Sun's topless tit-pics site, Page3.com, and footballfc.com from the News of the World have also reportedly been handed back to their papers.

However, the future of entertainment auction sites, FiredUp.com, and the recruitment site, Revolver.com, are not known.

Janet Anderson, a spokeswoman for News International said: "They remain [with News Network] at this stage."

Anderson refused to comment on the redundancies or the future of News Network.

Questioned about the redundancies she said: "No comment."

News Network's MD, Alasdair MacLeod wasn't available for comment today, apparently tied-up in meetings all day.

In March, a leaked document revealed that the new media company suffered from low employee morale and widespread dissatisfaction with management.

Speaking at the time, Tony Hall, marketing director at News Network said that the internal assessment was a "positive situation" and showed that the company listened to its employees.

Confirming the authenticity of the leaked internal report he said: "We are a fast developing a company with an open culture -- (what we have done is) positive and refreshing."

News Network was created in February to handle the development of News International's online strategy.

Far from simply migrating its content - The Sun, Times et al - online, News Network planned to create a number of e-businesses based on its offline collateral.

Not only did it plan to build on its existing brands, News Network said it was keen to build completely new ones, such as its online entertainment auction site, FiredUp.com.

It was also planning to ensure that whatever was created would be available not just on the Web, but also on other platforms including digital TV and WAP. ®

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