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January 27, 2016

David Leigh steps down from news director role at Splash in wake of lay-offs

By Dominic Ponsford

Splash News and Pictures news director David Leigh is the latest member of senior staff to leave the agency.

The departure of the former Daily Express news editor comes after the British-founded agency laid off ten journalists shortly before Christmas.

Splash was founded by British tabloid journalists Kevin Smith and Gary Morgan in 1990, growing to a $30m-turnover business with offices around the world and 100 staff. In 2011 it was sold to photography archive giant Corbis.

Last week Corbis sold its archive to Visual China Group, but it retained Splash. The moves means Splash photographs no longer appear in the Corbis archive which, under a separate deal, is now available to Getty Images subscribers. This consolidation has created what Getty describes as “an unprecedented collection of images, videos and historic archival content for creative and editorial use”.

Press Gazette understands that seven photographers and three TV production staff were made redundant by Splash in November.

Additionally, agency’s global head of news and entertainment, Paul Tetley, left in November, as did UK sales manager David Ellis. Morgan left Splash in 2014 and Smith left in 2012, 12 months after selling up.

Corbis is owned by Bill Gates and previously focused on acquiring and preserving historical images.

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Splash has made its name with showbiz exclusives such its reports on Anna Nicole Smith's death in 2007 and revelations about golfer Tiger Woods' love life in 2009.

It is now part of Corbis Entertainment, which is described as an entertainment marketing business.

A company spokesperson said that Splash is “an important part of the company’s future in the entertainment”.

In an email to staff following the sale of its archive to the Chinese company, Corbis said: “Splash is one of the core assets in our strategy as we look to accelerate our transition into an entertainment content and advertising focused company.

“We are excited about the opportunities that exist and are confident that we have the right strategy, financial resources and a great team in place that will extend our leadership position even further. Now, with even more focus on Splash and our Splash News TV (SNTV) business, we will be committing more energy and providing greater global resources that will help us and you grow our businesses.”

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