The Indian Express has asked its employees to take a “temporary salary cut” after the nationwide lockdown due to the novel coronavirus pandemic affected the paper’s circulation and sales. The daily is also facing dipped advertising revenue.
In an internal email to employees on April 1, CEO George Varghese called the current situation “absolutely unprecedented”.
“Vendors are insecure, RWAs [Resident Welfare Association] are insecure, the rail, road and air lockdown has grounded distribution, businesses are shut down, we have been compelled to reduce print orders in all centres,” Varghese wrote.
He added: “Our advertising revenues have been hit hard and all available evidence shows the worst may be yet to come.”
Here is the proposed salary cuts for employees at Express according to Varghese’s email: 0 percent cut for those earning below Rs 5 lakh per annum; 10 percent for those between Rs 5 and 7.5 lakh; 15 percent for Rs 7.5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh range; 20 percent for Rs 10 lakh to Rs 20 lakh range; 25 percent for Rs 20 lakh to Rs 25 lakh range; and 30 percent for those earning above Rs 35 lakh per annum.
Chief editor Rajkamal Jha, chairman Anant Goenka, and director Vaidehi Thakkar have taken 100 percent salary cuts.
“If the situation does not improve I will have no choice but request all of you to make more sacrifices,” Varghese wrote. “Nothing will make me happier than to propose to you to withdraw this salary cut, the moment we turn the corner but what worries me is that if the situation continues this proposed reduction in salary will also not be enough for us to see through this crisis.”
Media outlets in India have taken a severe hit following the nationwide lockdown placed on March 24. Newslaundry had that 15 staffers at Pune-based Sakal Times were given the pink slip. In an interview with Exchange4Media on March 28, Republic TV’s Arnab Goswami his advertisers to stay by his side.
The lockdown also implies for newspapers since advertisers pay newspapers because the readers can see their ads. But if a newspaper is not published or it doesn’t reach homes even if it’s published, there is no reason for an advertiser to advertise. If newspapers don’t reach homes in bigger cities, their advertising rates and their advertising revenue is going to take a big beating.
An earlier version of this story identified Vaidehi Thakkar as chairperson instead of director.