Australian Pay TV Giant Foxtel Lays off 200 Amid Virus Crisis

Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images
Foxtel CEO Patrick Delany

The company, majority-controlled by Rupert Murdoch's Foxtel, is putting an additional 140 people on leave until June as canceled and postponed sports events hit its business.

Australian pay TV giant leader Foxtel, which is majority-owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, has laid off 200 employees and put 140 additional staffers on leave until June amid the new coronavirus pandemic.

The company's sports unit, which has been lacking fresh content amid the novel coronavirus' spread that has led to sports events being postponed or canceled, was hardest hit. The moves affect 12 percent of Foxtel's 2,800 employees, with the layoffs hitting for 7 percent of its staff.

"The actions we have had to take this week make it one of the toughest in Foxtel’s history," local media reports quoted Foxtel CEO Patrick Delany as saying in a staff memo.

"Australia has experienced tough times before," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Delany as writing. "We know that in tough times Foxtel becomes a great source of comfort to people at home who want to be informed and entertained. Right now, with Australians isolating themselves at home, our customers need us more than ever. He added: "The government COVID-19 restrictions are, however, seeing major challenges for us, including the broadcast and streaming of live sport. And looking ahead, the economic outlook for Australia is deteriorating and our continued transformation will become even more important."

News Corp controls a 65 percent stake in Foxtel, with the rest owned by Australian telecom giant Telstra. The company operates movie and sports networks.

Media and entertainment companies in the U.S., U.K. and elsewhere have been looking at laying off or furloughing staff amid the coronavirus pandemic, with some companies announcing job cuts.