In the News ... Virgin Media

- Bring us up to speed

Broadband and TV group Virgin Media has been rounded on by angry unions after plans came to light to pay big bonuses to top executives months after cutting 2,200 jobs. In a notice filed with the US SEC, the media group revealed qualifying staff could receive between five per cent and 100 per cent of their annual salary in bonuses. The Communication Workers Union called on executives, including CEO Neil Berkett, to forgo their bonuses.

- The reaction?

Grace Mitchell, assistant secretary at the CWU, said: 'At a time when people are losing their jobs, executives should be taking a lead and looking to forgo these bonuses.' The story was picked up by The Times, The Daily Telegraph and The Independent. The Telegraph quoted a company spokesman saying bonuses were necessary to 'incentivise' the group. The company also stressed that half its employees were eligible and it was dependent on hitting specific performance targets.

- Who are the PR players?

Virgin Media brought in Tavistock Communications to handle financial PR in mid-2008, having previously used M: Communications. Its in-house team is headed by Paul Richmond, director of corporate affairs & media.

- What happens next?

It was inevitable that the intense media scrutiny on banking bonuses would spill into the corporate world. But any company cutting costs, and particularly making significant redundancies, has to be mindful of being seen to reward those at the top. With Virgin Media recently revealing a new subscriber slump of 40 per cent, it will need to ensure its turnaround strategy provides material benefits to customers sooner rather than later.

15% Proportion of Virgin Media staff facing redundancy

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