It is five days now that the broadcast industry is still trying to absorb the shock of Turner International India’s decision to shut down Imagine TV. The closure of another general entertainment channel is not new to the Indian broadcasting industry. In fact 2012 is predicted to be the year of shake ups and consolidation. But the most important question that arises from Imagine’s abrupt end is whether it was done the right way. Let me rephrase that, whether it was done in what would be the most correct way to do something like this.
Around 150 employees of the company were given a day’s notice before terminating their services. The announcement was made in the morning of April 12, 2012 and by 4 pm the same day, employees had to handover their office systems like laptops and phones. Employees had to stop coming to office from April 13, 2012. The company is honouring individual contracts and that decides the compensation to these employees. That may take care of the seniors in the system but what about the junior staff? Many of these employees had job offers in previous weeks but they were persuaded to stay back by bosses who too were not aware that Imagine TV will not exist soon.
The few people I spoke to on the subject suggested that from a Turner viewpoint, there would be many reasons that would have led to this decision and after a point, there is very little that a company’s head can do than just execute a larger decision of a global management. May be, but does that matter.
On its part, Turner is doing what it can, even though it does not appear to be enough. The number of people Turner will absorb in other units is not expected to be more than five. The transition team that has, in a sense, been given an extended deadline, is another 10-12. For the rest, Turner has appointed career transition company Adecco LLH to assist in finding placement. The line leaders, content head, sales head are also working towards finding jobs for their teams.
CEOs of various companies, including the likes of TV Today CEO Joy Chakraborthy, too have extended support. And all this reflects well for the Indian broadcasting industry. But what are the associations and the Indian Broadcasting Foundation doing for these people? Should it be doing something for these people?
While our industry stalwarts have come together and created various systems that take care of companies and the interests of the member companies of these organisations, who is looking after the interest of the human capital of our industry. At least I did not find any answers to that in the last five days that could be of any significance.
In many cases earlier, whether it was 9X or Real, the employees were given some time to absorb the news themselves first, and then find a way of informing their families and other concerned. Perhaps the fact that most of the earlier news was at the time of the slowdown when pink slips was a brutal reality, also did not led to many people focus on these things. But when our industry is supposedly doing well, when India is of strategic importance for global players and when we are still growing, what does one make of a case like Imagine?
Innumerable leaders have been quoted in the past that ours is a people’s business. Maybe that translates into companies taking care of people and creating conditions that attract the best of talent to them but as an industry, what are we doing to attract the best of talent to television or other media?
Imagine TV’s closure augers poorly on Turner but the fact that the industry does not have a mechanism to take care of its people, isn’t reflecting very well on the industry either.