These are not happy times for the media industry. Pay cuts, job freezes, and closures are becoming the norm in the industry faced with the economic slowdown. Last week saw some media majors taking steps to counter the slowdown effects. They included Daily News and Analysis (DNA) letting go of some of its editorial staff in Mumbai; Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd, publishers of The Times of India and Economic Times, effecting pay cuts and more layoffs; NewsX, a company now promoted by Nai Duniya-owner Vinay Chajjlani and former Businessworld Editor Jehangir Pocha, also had to bear the brunt and cut salaries. The latest buzz is that of NDTV deciding to scale down the operations of its NCR-centric English news channel MetroNation Delhi.
When contacted, an official spokesperson from NDTV, clarified, “We are not shutting down MetroNation Delhi, but scaling it down. The TRPs of MetroNation have been excellent and it is the most watched English news channel in the NCR region, ahead of other national English channels. Plans to launch MetroNation Chennai are also on track.”
The MetroNation side of the NDTV business is currently operational only in Delhi. There are plans to launch a Chennai channel, for which a joint venture with The Hindu was formed, as well as a channel in Mumbai.
It may be recalled that in January 2009 rumours were afloat about
BCCL taking a 26 percent stake in NDTV MetroNation. On being
questioned on the matter at that time, BCCL’s Ravi Dhariwal had said
that the speculation was “baseless and untrue”.
exchange4media had done a report in January 2009 that talked about
NDTV tightening its belt, freezing recruitments and slashing salaries
by up to 20 percent for the top management.
exchange4media had also come to know of discussions and talks internally at the NDTV office about necessary steps taken to prepare for the economic downturn.
It may be recalled that an internal email sent by Dr Prannoy Roy, Chairman and Director NDTV, and Radhika Roy, had stated: “The time for complacency is over. Each one of us needs to increase our productivity, our efficiency, our desire to learn and improve. This is the time to streamline our operations, excise any flab that the system may have gained in the boom times and return to being a lean, tough, strong, efficient and compassionate organisation.”
The email went on to say, “There will be no hiring of any new employees. There will be a headcount freeze until further notice. Our salary costs are already far too high – higher than our counterparts in the industry. There is, you will agree, substantial flab, too, at NDTV (some people work very hard, while others seem to be floating along). No more ‘floaters’ should be accepted – it’s unfair on those who work. Travel and telephone bills are also a very large part of NDTV’s expenditure. Please try and economise as much on these as possible and keep the expenditure as low as is feasible without dropping quality standards. Think before you travel or make a phone call. We are undergoing an environmental audit, too, which will ensure cost savings and make our organisation environmentally friendly.”
As a first step, many in NDTV’s senior management volunteered to take
a salary cut of 20 percent for the year 2009 as well as ensuring other
expenditures were curtailed too.
NDTV MetroNation had celebrated its first anniversary on September 26, 2008, and was upbeat after experiencing a 27 per cent growth in market share over the last one year. However, things have changed drastically for the channel in this short while.
No investments in NDTV MetroNation, asserts BCCL
NDTV MetroNation turns one; channels in Chennai, other metros in the pipeline