Autocue Group Ltd, the British newsroom automation and teleprompting company, is to close its London-area rental business.

In operation since 1955, the hire department offered equipment, rigging and set-up services to broadcasters and production companies from an office in Mitcham, Surrey.

The move has been made to capitalize on a perceived desire from customers to own, rather than hire, prompting systems as the cost of technology has fallen and equipment has become easier to use.

Autocue chief executive Frank Hyman said, "In the last few years we have seen a marked trend toward customers buying rather than renting their prompting systems. Our clients clearly see the longer term benefits and we are simply adapting to the market to continue to provide the best value for money for our customers.

“The fact is, for the cost of two or three weeks' rental, a customer can buy any product in our range, and this will last them for many years to come.”

Job cuts

Seven employees are directly affected by the closure. This number is made up of two full-time operators, three riggers - one of which, a senior rigger, is being retained within Autocue - and two operations staff.

A spokesperson confirmed that despite these job losses “the vast majority” of Autocue employees will remain in the business.

Hyman acknowledged that the closure would result in a number of financial advantages.

He said: "Autocue will continue to adapt to the changing needs of the market to benefit both customers and our stakeholders. This decision will enable us to allocate more resources to our core sales business to build on the profitable growth we have achieved in the last 12 months, and exploit the changing needs of the rental market, whilst also reducing our overheads."

Autocue's long-standing contract with BBC News and its regional rental offices in the north of England, the midlands and Scotland will be unaffected by the decision to close the London business.

Autocue Group develops, manufacturers and sells prompting, scripting, production and newsroom applications.