While nearly all sectors are resorting to issuing pink slips or putting a freeze on recruitments due to the current economic slowdown, the radio industry, being a cost-effective medium, has by far been largely insulated in this regard, though not entirely untouched. However, industry players are being cautious and watching their spends.
How they see it
When contacted by exchange4media, Apurva Purohit, CEO, Radio City, and President, AROI, said, “The last few months have not been easy for any industry, even in 2009, at the onset, promises no respite. Having said that, this time is clearly an opportunity for every industry to improve efficiencies across all facets of their business by pruning any inefficiencies existing in the system.” On the impact on employment, she said, “Certain industries have been affected, but I am not sure to what extent this is true for media organisations. At Radio City, we have always been very streamlined when it comes to recruitment with great clarity on roles and profiles. Thus, the phenomenon of job cuts in response to the slowdown has not affected Radio City.”
Prashant Panday, CEO, Radio Mirchi, observed, “The media industry has been affected as much as any other industry and hence, different companies are trying different things to cope with the challenges posed. Yes, many media companies have asked some people to leave; many others are contemplating salary cuts; some are just freezing salaries – and almost all have frozen recruitments. I think this is a time to watch carefully.”
He continued, “If the tide improves, many of these steps could be reversed, though at this time, I must admit that it looks like the problems may continue a little longer. At Mirchi, we have not decided on anything yet on the people front – but yes, we have cut back on many of the administrative expenses. We are also protecting our marketing budgets.”
Abraham Thomas, COO, Red FM, maintained, “The radio industry is slightly better placed because of our operational efficiencies and low cost business model. While there has been a slowdown, we haven’t seen any job cuts as of now.”
Harrish M Bhatia, VP - Northern Region, AROI, and COO, My FM (Synergy Media Entertainment Ltd), noted, “The economic slowdown has definitely been a black mark on the year, but radio has been relatively safeguarded from it as compared to other media. With low, cost-effective advertising solutions, we have managed to keep ourselves and our existing employees away from trouble. We are trying our best to stay abreast and till the time our employees continue to bring value to the system, they can’t be laid off.”
Lancelot Cutinha, Senior Vice President - Human Resources, Big FM, too, felt that the impact of the global recession was not very strong on the radio industry so far, since radio was an extremely cost effective medium. “But yes, we are very proactive and cautious in our business approach currently. In terms of recruitments, we have a freeze on new recruitments. Job cuts are not on our radar currently and the scenario is not so bleak yet. But being fiscally more prudent, cutting wastage and improving productivity through multi-skilling are some of the things that we are doing,” he added.
Dealing with insecurities, if any?
Purohit said, “We at Radio City take pride in the fact that our people are the driving force of our success. While our people management philosophy is rooted in compassion and caring, we also believe in emphasising hugely on performance and productivity.”
“We have an excellent HR practice at Radio City, which ensures that every individual in the organisation knows exactly the human values the organisation stands for and where it is headed. We ensure an open and warm environment via a series of various people-centric programmes and transparent communication across the organisation. This ensures people know exactly what is going on in the organisation and insulates us to a great extent from any insecurity driven by the market mood,” she added.
Panday observed, “It’s likely to be troubled times for all team members who get affected. There really is no quick fix solution to this. Team members have seen boom periods in the recent past – so they will be willing to take pay freezes for a year or more. I also feel that there is no longer any ‘stigma’ attached to be laid off. I think companies can help team members by giving them time to search for alternate jobs outside – if they have to be laid off at all.”
Bhatia pointed out, “At My FM, we provide a constructive work environment to our employees, which allows them to channelise their energy in creative thinking and adding value to their jobs. This, we feel, also keeps them away from such psychological fears. The action in the radio industry and the enabling work culture does not let them deter from their role and they continue to be valuable to the organisation. Our mantra has been to stay psychologically unaffected by the slowdown and to continue our rigorous plan of activities.”
The slowdown has certainly had some amount of effect on the radio industry as well, however, being a cost effective medium, the impact has been buffered to some extent. While there are reports of even media companies issuing pink slips to their employees and even freezing recruitments, for the radio industry this is not on the cards, at least for some radio players, though they are playing a wait and watch game.