Israel's Maariv daily considers efficiency measures, move to digital
As part of new business strategy, Israeli newspaper expected to lay off dozens, sell printing press; print edition will gradually disappear as content migrates online.
The management of Israeli newspaper Maariv is expected to present a new business plan within weeks, after its board of directors demanded immediate strategic changes in light of the company's dire financial state.
Maariv ran a loss of millions of shekels in 2011, and is expected to continue losing money in 2012 and 2013.
As part of its new business strategy, Maariv is expected to cut back on its print activity while diverting resources to its digital edition, while examining possible "synergies with other newspapers."
One possibility being considered is to reduce the size of the paper's print edition in the near term, while eventually eliminating the daily print edition altogether in favor of an expanded weekend edition.
At the same time, Maariv is considering reviving a plan for producing an iPad edition. The plan was initiated under Maariv’s previous controlling shareholder, Zaki Rakib. However, when businessman Nochi Dankner took control of Maariv through his IDB Group in 2011, the initiative was halted.
The paper is also planning to sell a plot of land in Bat Yam, south of Tel Aviv, on which its printing press is currently located. In light of new plans for high-rise office buildings being promoted by the municipality in the area, the value of the land could rise to some NIS 200 million.
If it goes ahead with the sale, the newspaper would move its printing operations to another printing press, possibly including those of its competitors Yediot Aharonot or Haaretz. The newspaper has previously confirmed that it was negotiating with Yediot Aharonot, but no agreement has been reported.
The process will also involve a large number of dismissals. Some 25 employees have already been let go, and the number could rise to some 100.
The newspaper's journalists' union, however, objects to the move, and a labor court hearing on the issue is scheduled for Wednesday.