Media crunch continues with more job cuts in the pipeline

Thousands of workers could be part of a fresh round of retrenchment exercises in the media industry, less than a month after the closure of two popular Malay dailies which saw some 2,000 people losing their jobs.

It is understood that a conglomerate which has been operating multiple media platforms with nationwide reach is looking at reducing its number of staff to one-third of its current size.

According to sources senior managers have been called for a meeting today to announce retrenchment plans.

“The details of the exercise will be laid out and could affect more than 2,500 employees,” said one source with knowledge of the matter.

It is also learnt that at least 500 editorial staff will be affected by the decision.

This latest move in a spate of company shutdowns and resizing exercises is seen as a signal that the media industry is far from recovery.

On Oct 9, Utusan Malaysia and Kosmo! announced their final appearance at news stands nationwide after publisher Utusan Melayu Bhd went into liquidation.

It was reported that the company would need RM400 million to settle its debts and liabilities, and to pay compensation and outstanding salaries owed to more than 1,500 former employees.

It was also reported that Berjaya Media, which publishes the Sun newspaper, will be delisted from Bursa Malaysia next week. On Wednesday, the company’s shares plunged 58.54% (12 sen), its sharpest fall in history.

In addition to the above Media Prima Bhd’s board is mulling another possible round of job cuts against the harsh operating landscape in the media industry.

“Heads of departments have been informed to be on standby for a 3pm meeting this afternoon to discuss the outcome of the board meeting,” said an industry source familiar with the matter.

“The speculation is that it would involve job cuts but we will have to wait for the outcome of the board meeting,” said the source.

If the job cuts happen, it will be the second round of staff rationalisation for Media Prima.

In November last year, Media Prima’s subsidiary Sistem Televisyen Malaysia Bhd, which operates free-to-air television station TV3, gave 190 employees three months’ notice of its intention to retrench them, while offering mutual separation scheme (MSS) to 43 others.

The rationalisation of Media Prima’s operations followed the entry of Aurora Mulia Sdn Bhd, a company linked to tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar, which had acquired 88.29 million shares or 7.9% stake in the media group in September this year.

Aurora Mulia acquired an additional 7.5 million shares on Oct 8, bringing its stake in the company to 31.898%.

The investment vehicle had also acquired a 70% equity interest in Dilof Sdn Bhd, which holds the printing licences and archives of Utusan Malaysia and Kosmo!, following the shutdown of Utusan Melayu (M) Bhd’s operations. Dilof has since been renamed to Media Mulia Sdn Bhd.

Media Prima posted a net loss of RM8.83 million for the second quarter ended June 30, 2019 (2QFY19), its second consecutive quarter in the red, amid lower contribution from the traditional revenue segment such as publishing and television networks.

The company has seen a string of quarterly losses since 3QFY16, with the exception of 4QFY16, 2QFY18 and 4QFY18.


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