e.tv to slash newsroom staff

Cape Town - e.tv and its sister TV news channel eNCA is again looking to cut its Cape Town newsroom staff further.

The latest round of possible eNews staff cuts comes after eNCA's dramatic staff downsizing just a year ago in April 2015.

The broadcaster has struggled in 2016 as speculation again flared up in Cape Town media about a rumoured merge of Independent Media’s storied Cape Times and Cape Argus newspapers that could see staff retrenchments.

e.tv and eNCA's plan that will likely lead to the retrenchment of Cape Town based staffers, follows after the beleaguered SABC which fired eight journalists in July and was ordered by the Labour Court to reinstate seven of them.

Meanwhile the struggling Gupta-owned news channel ANN7 on DStv continues to fire journalists - first eight in June and then another five in July - for having participated in a public protest. The journalists were ordered to disciplinary hearings with reasons like "wasting water - a precious resource".

Sources told Channel24 that "everybody in the Cape Town newsroom must reapply for their jobs, except journalists and cameramen" and that a senior manager was set to meet with e.tv and eNCA's Cape Town staffers on Friday.

Bigger trend

The continued pressure to downsizing e.tv and eNCA's Cape Town eNews staff is part of a bigger trend that started when Marcel Golding, the former chief executive officer of e.tv and eNCA resigned and was jettisoned together with his wife, chief operating officer Bronwyn Keene-Young in October 2014.

Golding spearheaded and launched eNews on e.tv in January 1999 specifically headquartered from Cape Town to help bring South Africans another, more independent perspective on the news away from the SABC's Auckland Park, and then launched eNCA (then called the eNews Channel) on MultiChoice's DStv in June 2008.

Earlier this year in April e.tv shocked many when it announced that it will be lobbying the broadcasting regulator for permission to dump all news in prime time, saying that TV news on e.tv during prime time is not a revenue generator.

Mark Rosin, eMedia Investments' group COO went as far as saying that if e.tv is forced to broadcast news during prime time, it will cause "serious revenue challenges".

Now eMedia Investments is again looking at cutting staff in Cape Town, saying the current structure of its technical operations departments and some editorial sections of news programming broadcast from Cape Town is "complicated" and creates "operational and management difficulties as well as duplication in the business".

eMedia Investments isn't saying why the Cape Town side of its technical operations - where e.tv and eNCA just recently moved into a newly constructed building costing millions - has been targeted for staff adjustments, and not Johannesburg.

The programmes NewsDay on eNCA and eNews Direct on e.tv, produced from both Cape Town and Johannesburg, and the Zulu news on e.tv are all partly co-ordinated and broadcast from Cape Town and will likely shed staff.

eMedia Investments says "the current function is spread across two cities and two companies; Johannesburg and Cape Town, e.tv and eNCA".

"It is critical for a restructure to happen, however no decision has been made, and will not be made without open, honest and full consultation with employees who may be impacted. e.tv and eNCA are committed to ensuring that employees are treated fairly through this difficult process".

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