Viacom 18, one of India’s largest media ventures, has joined the growing list of media companies to cut the salaries of their staff during the coronavirus pandemic.
Viacom 18, a subsidiary of Network 18, runs a bouquet of entertainment channels such as Colors and MTV India.
In an email to the staff, Rahul Joshi, acting CEO of Viacom 18, said the company’s business had fallen “down to a trickle” given that its programming remained halted due to the pandemic. The company was, therefore, left with no option but to cut costs considerably, he added. Hence, the pay cuts.
While those earning up to Rs 7.5 lakh – 30 percent of the company’s workforce, according to Joshi – won’t lose any salary, the rest will get graded cuts of five percent to 25 percent with effect from April 1.
In addition, the company has halted the appraisal process, promotions and bonus payments for the financial year 2020.
In his email, however, Joshi promised to review the pay cuts in October if the “business returns to normal with the same force with which it has receded”.
In recent weeks, several Big Media organisations, including the Hindu, Indian Express and Hindustan Times, have cut or deferred the wages of their staff. The Times Group, which runs the Times of India and the Economic Times, has not only reduced salaries but also fired some staff.
Though the print media seems the hardest hit by the pandemic, which has disrupted the distribution of newspapers, the digital and broadcast media are also struggling. Several TV channels and online news outlets, including NDTV, News Nation and the Quint, have either cut wages or laid off staff, or both, in recent weeks. All India Radio, the state broadcaster, ignored government advisories to put casual staff out of work.
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