Corona Crisis and India’s uncouth media owners – Rampant salary cuts and retrenchments in the media industry

Is it cut-throat capitalism that is making the media owners use Corona crisis as an excuse to retrench/ cut salaries?

Is it cut-throat capitalism that is making the media owners use Corona crisis as an excuse to retrench/ cut salaries?
Is it cut-throat capitalism that is making the media owners use Corona crisis as an excuse to retrench/ cut salaries?

Considering the salary cuts implemented blaming the Corona crisis, India’s media owners are the most uncouth while preaching morality through their media houses. Indian Express was the first to come out with salary cuts from 10 to 30% on April 1. The newspaper now controlled by Viveck Goenka even misquoted the paper’s founder Ramnath Goenka’s words to justify the salary cuts[1]. Though many Journalist Unions rushed to Supreme Court against the salary cut and retrenchments by the media owners blaming Coronavirus and the Court on April 27 has sent a notice to Central Government to respond by May third week[2].

Times of India Group controlled by Samir Jain and Vineet Jain were heartless in cutting salaries, blaming it on the Corona crisis. According to staffers, the Group is having a profit of more than Rs.1200 crores from their newspaper, television, internet business, and other business and implemented the cuts to maintain the profits. Many journalists and staffers say that as the next step, the Jains are planning to retrench many staffers to save the expenses on the garb of the COVID-19 crisis[3]. The same is the situation in Shobhana Bhartia controlled Hindustan Times Group which implemented 10 to 25% salary cuts in the early week of April.

Cunning Sarkar brothers

Aveek Sarkar and Arup Sarkar have taken this to a whole new level. The Sarkars-controlled Telegraph newspaper and ABP Group. Fearing possible legal issues, they implemented a 30% salary cut to all employees and asked them to submit a letter to the management that they are surrendering 30% salary “voluntarily”. Employees accuse Sarkar brothers of doing ultimate fraud to save from cases and those employees who did not submit surrendering letters will be terminated[4].

Many Journalists have told PGurus that all owners were uncouth when it comes to salary cuts in the garb of Corona crisis and planning to retrench staffers later to protect their profits and reduce the expenses. Pioneer newspaper owned by Chandan Mitra also implemented a 30% salary cut on all employees like the Telegraph newspaper and ABP Group, while many media houses implemented salary cuts only on those earning above Rs.50,000 monthly. Another ethics-preaching newspaper The Hindu, currently controlled by moral preacher and labour loving Leftist N Ram also implemented 6 to 25% salary cuts[5].

PGurus has published a series of articles on the uncouth ways of media owners when it comes to money matters. Quint website owner Raghav Bahl, who is also accused of money laundering, tax evasion and stock exchange manipulations has already packed off more than 50 staffers in early April by salary-less forced leave[6]. NDTV’s Prannoy Roy, like his buddy Raghav Bahl (both face similar charges by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED)) has implemented 15-40 percent salary cuts. Even Mukesh Ambani controlled CNN-News 18 network also implemented 25% salary cut blaming Coronavirus. The similar is the state of affairs in regional language media houses too, be it Hindi, Tamil, Marathi, Malayalam, Gujarat, Kannada etc. According to journalists, the regional newspaper and TV channel owners did more harm to the employees by cutting salaries and retrenching during the Corona crisis.

Manoj Sonthalia-controlled New Indian Express also implemented a 30% salary cut on those getting salary of more than Rs.50,000/month. The worst is the debt-ridden Deccan Chronicle Group which also publishes the Asian Age newspaper. Though the Deccan Chronicle Group is taken over by Kolkata based SREI Group, insiders say that the old owners Reddy brothers still control the media business. According to staffers, for the past 7 months salary is not disbursed in this troubled group, and promoter Rama Reddy is not at all responding to them.

Many of these uncouth media owners fraudulently pre-dated their salary-cuts-letter to before the date the Supreme Court issued notice to the Central Government (April 27), seeking response on salary cuts and retrenchments. Sneaky. Though newspaper owners are claiming huge losses, many journalists told PGurus that they are hushing-up the fact that the majority of the expenses are cut down during the Lockdown period. Newspapers are only printing 12 or 14 pages where papers like Times of India and Hindustan Times used to print more than 50 pages. It is a fact that 80 percent of the revenue is cut due to lack of advertisements during the Lockdown period, but the expenses are also cut because of the fewer number of printing copies, they said. Journalists also blame the Central and State Governments for cutting down advertisements sharply, while they work full time to disseminate the COVID-19 pandemic reporting and relief works and hope for a positive reply from Government to Supreme Court on the case filed by their Unions.

References:

[1] Blaming Corona, Indian Express implements huge salary cutsApr 4, 2020, PGurus.com

[2] Journalists’ Unions approach Supreme Court against the illegal salary cuts and retrenchments in the garb of Corona pandemic crisisApr 17, 2020, PGurus.com

[3] After salary cuts, Times of India Group plans massive retrenchment in the garb of Corona crisisApr 28, 2020, PGurus.com

[4] Telegraph newspaper and its ABP Group ask staffers to “voluntarily” surrender 30% salary, citing Corona CrisisMay 7, 2020, PGurus.com

[5] Blaming Corona, ethics preaching The Hindu newspaper group also implements salary cut of 6-25 percentMay 7, 2020, PGurus.com

[6] Blaming Corona, Quint website owner Raghav Bahl kicks out staffers through forced leave without salary from April 15Apr 13, 2020, PGurus.com

Team PGurus

6 COMMENTS

  1. “The Hindu” N. Ram is an icon of double standards, calling himself a Righteous reformist, leftist, communist, but in reality he is an Unworthy stinking Capitalist rather to be more precise an Opportunist who failed to protect the welfare of Hindu ethos. He misguided the Tamil local folks. He has been in close company supporting the most Corrupt Congress men like P. Chidambaram on the one hand while The Hindu never brought out the atrocities of the Dravidian parties like DK, DMK et al. for the last thirty years. In the name of calling himself a righteous reformist he protected DMK mouthpieces like Nakeeran Gopal in the recent past, besides making false allegations against the BJP in the Rafale deal. It is worth the effort for someone more knowledgeable to contribute a separate stand alone column on N. Ram’s real contribution to Tamilnadu and Indian politics. Perhaps, PGurus should invite Dr. Patnaik who exposed the double standards of N.R in a TV Debate anchored by the pseudosecular antiHindu N. Ram.

  2. Seen so many critical articles in the Press/Social Media written by so many great Journalists about salary cut,layoffs etc in other Industries but they don’t write or have no guts to write on salary cut/layoff etc in their own Media Industry. Most of Indian Journalists toe their Media bosses boots everyday & work accordingly. Many are on hire for dirty jobs. Congratulate PGurus for bringing truth on present situation in Media Industry.

  3. I think media business is only part time. As proven in past, they involve in ministers making, military contract spokesman as well as promoting wrong businesses. All these REAL incomes have vanished with Modi’s arrival. No role of any middleman. Remember coup allegations on VK Singh in FRONT pages of a REPUTED news paper. Why would a paper print such news without motive ? I think in the ages of social media, it is time to close papers and send journalists home, as their contribution to nations wealth is zero.

  4. This is the typical British argument about an Indian society written in new form. The British first pauperised India and then claimed that Indians were to blame.
    In this case, the social media robbed the newspapers of their ad income and now pgurus, the American website is questioning their morality.

    Just try and reflect if it is the sanatan dharma that makes you think in such warped fashion, or is it your total surrender to American thought?

  5. The media owners are the worst Industrialists. They just preach but does reverse. They want only from all sides – be it ruling or opposition to plant news and create fake or favoured narratives. Most of them have other business and use media as garb to go scott free from their misdeeds. They play all tricks in Corporate world and Stock Exchange manipulations too using media.

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