This is an unprecedented circumstance & requires resilience in all of us: Avinash Pandey

In an email to staff, ABP News Network CEO Avinash Pandey offered comfort and direction as the company navigates the COVID-19 crisis

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Apr 15, 2020 9:13 AM  | 8 min read
Avinash Pandey ABP

Avinash Pandey ABP News Network (ANN) CEO gave comfort & direction to team ABP in a recent mail. The email surprisingly had no announcements of salary cuts or reduction of headcount or cost cuts as has been the case with most media and news organisations. However, it is yet to be seen what ABP News Network's parent and owner of Telegraph is doing to deal the with COVID-19 impact on its newspaper business which has been a leader in the West Bengal market.

In a mail written by ABP News Network CEO on Monday, April 13th to entire team members of the network, Pandey gave comfort and direction to team ABP.

Pandey writes “The last few weeks have tested our resilience in a way that we would never have anticipated. I wanted to write to you before you begin your work this week that I have immense gratitude for what sacrifices you are doing and hard effort you are making to keep the business running. As I wrote last time the extent and frequency of this pandemic are unknown and we are all sailing in unknown territory, it’s very important to always remember what we know of about this. We know that keeping social distance, wearing masks when out, washing hand frequently, and staying at home contain the spread. I am very proud that our network has taken lead in educating and informing our millions of audience through programmes, news and through some of the excellent promos that I have seen in some time. Time like these makes you realise who to trust. Viewers trust is axiomatic in our network reach today, which is No 1 since last few weeks.

This pandemic has got out best amongst us. While we are delivering record-breaking numbers, we are also finding innovative ways to minimise our exposure of coming to work and delivering excellent results. Our admin team is collating money to feed homeless, and many of our staff are putting their life at risk by stepping out to deliver news what’s important for today. No amount of gratitude would be sufficient to recognise what is being done today across the network. The amount of selflessness that I have seen in these last 4-5 weeks, I haven’t seen in years.

We do not know as of now when will all this end but we know reasonably that lockdown, limited mobility would continue for many weeks. Social distancing will remain a new normal until the last virus is eliminated. That is why it’s extremely important for you to know that you are a very valuable person for the company. Only you can take this to other end and thus it’s very important that you keep yourself safe. Our years of experience of managing several risks that come our way in reporting truth probably has prepared us for today. Step out only when it’s absolutely unavoidable. Most importantly follow HR instruction as it is.

The future or at least the near one would not be entirely positive. It would bring turmoil and the bad economy will be least of it. ABP like many other great institutions will face challenges and will demand not only good stewardship of our limited resources but also difficult and painful decisions. I can promise you that our promoters family are fully behind us and I will make all such difficult decisions with the utmost integrity."

exchange4media also has a copy of Mr Pandey's mail of 25th March where Pandey had first written to the team and also gave them the assurance that the promoters family was fully behind the ABP News Network (ANN) team and he also praised the editorial team of ANN on being able to keep the network full steam in terms of content.

Here are excerpts from the mail:

“As the coronavirus pandemic develops into absolute lockdown for next 21 days, I want all of you to know that health and well-being of all our employees are of utmost importance to me and all in Managing Committee. It is a very unusual time, and we are in a unique position to inform and educate millions of audiences every day through our TV and digital network by bringing facts and truth and thus mitigate the next stage of this pandemic. Much of the work that we do, cannot be done by just being at home! That’s why we have made sure that we implement enough preventive measures for us to be functional, effective and safe.

Our HR has been proactive and continuously communicating with all of you since the time this news first came and then moved into a crisis. HR asked people to operate from home and remotely as much as possible. All of you were asked to come to the office only when it’s absolutely unavoidable. Our reporters and cameraperson are working from their location and has been strictly advised not to come to studio unless unavoidable. Our entire staff of editorial at all location has done incredible work despite working with 1/3 of staff present at any given time and many of them working remotely. We have shown resilience by doing anchoring from home, working extra hours on a few days so that other colleague can avoid coming to office, changing formats of shows and what not all. Just to be there working tirelessly to deliver news which matters.

I am thrilled to see the jump in our digital consumption and it’s a further reassurance of trust that readers and viewers have bestowed upon ANN. Almost the entire team of digital is working from home and remote locations and doing an incredible job.

I am coming to office regularly like some of you. Though I keep a safe distance and most meetings are on zoom call or at a distance of at least a meter. I stopped shaking hands almost a fortnight back and all travel much before there was an advisory against that. Admin, Logistics, Infra & broadcast team at all of our offices have done what needs to be done at this stage by continuously sanitizing the entire office every hour, providing gloves and masks to our support staff, keeping all doors touch-free, functional network infra and seamless streaming and broadcast.

The sales team has managed to avoid large cancellation and utilize existing opportunity to keep advertising sales on, which is our sole source of revenue. The team is using all opportunities and resources to keep the revenue flow and minimize damages. You may know that much before clampdown, all advertising companies closed their offices and started working from home. However, our team has managed to keep the revenue flow all through this March on. Distribution team is in continuous touch with operators to make sure smooth viewing at everyone’s home. Their good relationship with operators is at full play. Marketing working from home has continuously worked on all communication that is required with community outside and has made sure our voices are heard. The finance team is clearing all your bills and vendors payment on time while working from home. Some of the staff from all departments visit the office as and when required but largely we have managed to work from remote and have done it well. This is an unprecedented circumstance and thus it requires resilience in all of us. The resilience is what I call adoptability personified. All disasters are manageable if you know the certainty of their frequency and consequences. The Coronavirus Pandemic is blanc on both counts. The fact is we don’t know its duration and consequences yet! No one knows or have an exit strategy out of this pandemic. The only thing we know is to keep ourselves locked-in to prevent its spread.

Our promoters family is fully behind us to sail through these difficult times. While at management we are gearing up for deepening economic and business fallout of this pandemic, it is extremely important for us that you take care of yourself. It would be catastrophic if any one of us is part of this chain of spread. No one is untouchable. This morning I received an email from Lawrence S Bacow, President Harvard University, saying that he & his wife have been infected and he doesn’t know how he got infected. This is what our PM said last night. Everyone is vulnerable.ABP News Network has had no news of retrenchment or salary cuts as of now in a period where companies in the media sector have been dealing with the economic impact of COVID-19 and bracing for survival by cutting costs by salary reduction and headcount reduction .“

However, the ABP News Network CEO has kept the door open for future salary cuts and headcount reduction and overall cost reductions to deal with the ongoing dynamic scenario of COVID-19. No One knows what May June hold for the COVID-19 issue and the related impact on the economy . ABP News Network s motto has been “ Aapko Rakhe Aage ‘ seems to be its guiding force while dealing with ANN team members.

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