Primedia starts retrenchment process as Covid-19 continues to shake up media

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Covid-19 has put pressure on SA media companies.
Covid-19 has put pressure on SA media companies.
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Primedia announced on Thursday that it is starting a retrenchment process in terms of Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act.

The group includes radio stations 702, KFM and CapeTalk, as well as national news brand EWN. It also has an advertising arm. It did not say how many jobs may be affected.

In a statement the group said the decision to start a retrenchment process followed an "extensive strategic review process which scrutinised every facet of the business".  It blamed the current poor economic environment, technological changes, new entrants in the media sector and the impact of Covid-19. 

Primedia Group has 786 fulltime employees, including 323 at Primedia Broadcasting, which is the largest division. 

Group interim CEO Phumzile Langeni said the impact of staff would be a "watershed moment".

"This is a sustainability strategy we had hoped not to have to deploy," said Langeni.   

The economic shock of Covid-19 has wreaked havoc on many parts of SA's media industry, contributing to the closure of Association Media Publishing, which includes the magazines Cosmopolitan, Women on Wheels, and House and Leisure.

Primedia said the consultation process which was initiated will involve the majority of divisions, with Primedia Broadcasting expected to be the most affected.

"The number of roles that will be impacted by the repositioning of the business will only be confirmed at the conclusion of the consultation process," said Primedia.

Primedia added that before the pandemic, the management team embarked on an extensive programme of cost containment over the past 12 months to reduce operating costs as far as possible in response to the revenue pressures.   

Caxton & CTP Publishers & Printers announced in early May that it has begun the process of withdrawing from magazine publishing, although Living & Loving and Farmer's Weekly may be accommodated elsewhere in its stable.

Media24, meanwhile, announced last week that it would start consultations with staff about the possible closure of five magazines and two newspapers, as well as outsourcing and reducing the frequency of its remaining monthly magazines, among other interventions.

* Fin24 is part of Media24

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