PR team escapes the axe as ntl restructures comms

The PR unit within troubled cable TV firm ntl has emerged largely

unscathed from the firm's latest communications restructure, which has

seen more than 40 staff axed in the marketing department.

ntl head of media relations Malcolm Padley insisted it was 'business as

usual' for the 12-strong UK PR team, despite the cuts made to its

central marketing function.

Changes announced this week include the merging of the customer

communications arm into the remit of brand director Bart Michels.

Padley said ntl was refocusing its marketing to concentrate more on the

regions, resulting in a scaling back of the central team - reports

suggest numbers have been reduced from 55 to eight.

But he insisted the group's PR function, which is headed by director or

corporate comms Tim Ryan, was already organised along regional lines,

with a central team of just five: 'ntl has always had regional PR

operations and a small central function,' he said.

Padley said there would be no changes to PR staff numbers or to ntl's

external agency roster, which includes Buchanan Communications for

financial and corporate PR, Lexis Public Relations for consumer and

Nelson Bostock Communications for B2B.

ntl group marketing director Mike Hounsell and customer marketing

director Charles Darley left the company following the marketing

division overhaul.

The firm is reported as saying Hounsell's role no longer exists. Heads

have been appointed for ntl's regional business units, which are

increasing their marketing teams from three to six.

The company's 2002 marketing budget has also been slashed from £65m to around £10m and national advertising is also being cut.

It is believed the drastic review forms part of a plan to reduce ntl's

£12bn debt.

The company announced last month it was to axe 2,000 jobs in the UK on

top of the 6,000 losses already confirmed, reducing the company's

workforce from 21,000 at the start of 2001 to 13,000.

ntl is in talks to sell ntl Broadcast, which could fetch up to £2bn.

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