Beleaguered by the economic slowdown and the Government’s proposed curbs on crisis reporting, times are tough for the television medium. The industry has been rife of late with rumours of NDTV Metro Nation being shut down. Though NDTV has shot down such rumours, the television major is on a serious cost cutting spree.
It may be recalled that NDTV Metro Nation had celebrated its first anniversary on September 26, 2008, reporting a 27 per cent growth in market share over the last one year. Metro Nation Delhi and NCR has been on air since September 2007 and had plans to expand to Hyderabad, Chennai and Bangalore markets, which have now been put on hold.
When contacted by exchange4media, an official from NDTV in an email clarified, “No decision has been taken on shutting down any NDTV channel. If there is any such decision made on this front, we will be issuing a formal statement.”
However, exchange4media has come to know of discussions and talks internally at the NDTV office about necessary steps to be taken to prepare itself for the economic downturn.
An internal email sent by Dr Prannoy Roy, Chairman and Director NDTV, and Radhika Roy, states: “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 goes 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 have volunteered to take a salary cut of 20 per cent for the year 2009 as well as ensuring other expenditures are curtailed too. The daily allowance for personal expenses during all travel in India would based on actuals. Internationally, too, the daily allowance for each region would be rationalised.
The Roys’ mail further says: “This is also a good time to revisit our core strengths of excellence, professionalism and efficiency. There are many external factors that we cannot control, but there are many internal factors, intrinsic to our daily lives at NDTV that we can control – we need to reaffirm our command over these and take NDTV to a new and higher plane.”
Retrofit: Shakeout in telly land begins