Media houses sanction layoffs & pay cuts amid COVID-19 crisis
In the wake of the pandemic, prominent Indian media houses have been tasked with imposing pay cuts and terminations
Right when the media industry was recovering from what was a rather slow year, it has been beset by another problem -- the coronavirus pandemic and the resultant economic impact. Many media houses across the country have made news after they announced pay cuts and layoffs, leaving the industry in a state of shock.
A little over a week ago, the Express Group informed its employees that the organization was going for a temporary salary cut. Alongside pay cuts between 10% and 30% the editorial team, Chief Editor Rajkamal Jha has also taken a 100 per cent salary cut.
This was followed by Business Standard asking its staff to take salary cuts. The Hindustan Times top management had also volunteered to take a 25% pay cut.
Monday, however, saw unprecedented volumes of pay cut announcements across the media fraternity. After a spate of pay cut announcements, came a round of terminations.
Word got around that News Nation terminated 16 English digital employees. Meanwhile, the Times of India Group is said to be planning to wrap up its Sunday magazine team. Journalist Nona Walia took to social media saying: “The entire team of Sunday magazine of Times of India asked to leave. Got a call from my boss Poonam Singh. Sacked after 24 years from a company I served with love for more than two decades. Wow.”
By evening, social media and messaging platforms were flooded with forwards about the fate of news organisations. While some spoke of job losses, others highlighted pay cuts.
NDTV is said to have announced up to 50% pay cuts for their employees. Digital players have also gone the same way to cut costs. The Quint has asked nearly half of its employees to go on leave without pay.
An excerpt from one of their internal mails said: “The last 2 years and more, have already seen a grinding economic slowdown in India. The Quint dealt with that robustly, continuing to push barriers in enterprise story-telling, setting benchmarks in genres like fact-checking, citizen journalism, multi-media story-telling, constantly building team strength and team skills. And now, we are faced with a truly unprecedented situation.”
It further said, “#CoronaPandemic has prompted, puts us all in the eye of an economic storm. That is the unprecedented double whammy. We’ve never seen a world where consumer spending is down by over 50%, where wealth and asset values built over years, have been ravaged in a matter of days. We simply have no idea where this could end.”
Bloomberg Quint has also circulated a mail that read: “The organization is looking at steep salary cuts to tide over the month of April. Employees under Rs 6 lakh gross annual CTC are protected. Between Rs 6-12 lakh CTC the employee will get 50% of the gross monthly CTC (taxable salary plus reimbursements) subject minimum of Rs 50k.Above Rs 12 lakh the employee will get only 25% of the gross monthly CTC (taxable salary plus reimbursements) subject to minimum Rs 50k.This is a temporary step taken for April and we expect to resume normal salary cycle from May.”
A lot of other newspapers and news channels have also announced pay cuts up to 30% and industry experts suggest there is more bad news waiting for the industry in the days ahead when it comes to retrenchments.
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