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9X besieged by layoff woes

21-January-2009
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9X besieged by layoff woes

The going is tougher than ever for 9X. Contrary to what INX Media’s CEO Indrani Mukerjea had told exchange4media a month back, the channel has embarked on a rigorous downsizing exercise, where around 80-100 officials have been asked to exit the channel in the last one month. The departures have been from across the functions of marketing, programming and operations. 9X sources have also said that many officials, who have not yet been handed the pink slip, have been asked to look for other jobs already.

Despite repeated attempts to contact INX Media officials, no comments were available on the retrenching exercise at the organisation. The most recent name that has been added to the exiting list is that of Anthony Pettifer, Group Director, INX Media, who is said to be leaving the company by the end of this month. Even as INX officials have not said anything on the development, sources from the company have informed that Pettifer’s contract would not be renewed.

INX Services’ Pritul Sanghvi, who was deputed at the organisation at the time of the hiring of employees in the initial phase, is handling the exits as well. Sanghvi refused to offer any comments to exchange4media when contacted on the development.

A 9X insider said, “9X had hired 350 employees, when most other recently-launched channels have teams of 120-150 people. What was the rationale of doing this when this is what it has boiled down to?”

Another source familiar with the programming structure in the company informed that 9X was undertaking several steps to resurrect the channel in whatever way possible. Even as the entire teams of Kumud Chowdhary and Sharmishtha Gupta, the former Fiction Head and Non-fiction Head, respectively, of the channel, have been fired, Vikas Varma has managed to hold on to some of the people that he has been working with. It is understood that Varma also handed over the profile of Operations Head to his Executive Assistant.

Varma is also looking at working on programming models that would include advertiser-funded programming or a model where the production house would create the show and sell it too, much as is seen on public broadcaster Doordarshan. A source said, “9X was trying to pitch the model to quite a few producers, but nobody was really agreeing to it.” The source also said that the recently announced show ‘Black’ was created on the same model. It is also learnt that some of the other recently announced shows such as ‘Angad’ and

‘Ramlal’, the promos of which were on the channel a month back, might not even see the light of day on 9X.

As is known, 9X is in the process of generating a second round of funding for the company. It is learnt that there is still time before something is heard on that.

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