As part of a massive restructuring plan, the Network 18 Group today has handed out pink slips to an estimated 325 employees across its channels.
“A large number of people have been asked to leave. The section that has been hit the most in the process of retrenchment are cameramen and technicians. Many morning news anchors have also been asked to leave,” said a source in the know.
Rajdeep Sardesai, editor-in-chief IBN 18 network, late night, tweeted, “Hurt and pain can be lonely. You must grieve in solitude.”
An employee in Mumbai, who was given the termination letter, said, “We were called to the office and were simply handed the letters. Almost the entire crew at IBN7 has been asked to leave. Those of us who have not been given the termination letters are in terror of being handed one any moment. Executives in Independent Media Trust and from the human resources department from the network sat at the round table putting the termination letters in the respective envelopes and stamping them. It looked like a post office, the way they were stamping letters in the conference room.”
Another source added that journalists in CNBC TV18’s Delhi bureau have been assured that their jobs are secure. “We have, however, been told that the bureau will be left with almost no cameramen and technicians, as the newsroom for all channels will be integrated,” said the source.
The pink slips are principally at TV18 Broadcast, the subsidiary of the listed company Network 18. TV18 Broadcast operates CNBC-TV18, CNBC Awaaz, CNN-IBN, IBN7 and IBN Lokmat, among others. Together the channels employ about 2,000, including journalists, camera persons and production staff.
Sources said that most retrenchment is happening at CNN IBN and at IBN7. A mail sent to B Sai Kumar, Group CEO, Network18, did not elicit any response. Emails sent to CNBC’s PR agency and other employees too did not elicit any response.
In January 2012, Reliance Industries made a major investment in TV18 through its Independent Media Trust. In July this year, Network18 had announced the setting up of ‘Network18 Business Newsroom’, an integrated newsroom comprising its market broadcast and digital news outlets. Network18 has a market cap of Rs 3,145 crore as on August 16. At the end of FY’13 the company has recorded a net loss of Rs 29.9 crore on total revenue of Rs 345.5 crore.
Earlier this week, Dilip Venkatraman, CEO of CNN-IBN and IBN7, quit the company and was replaced in the interim by Ajay Chacko, COO, Network18.
*Most retrenchment is happening at CNN IBN and at IBN7, which are also the ones with largest staff strength among the channels
*The group employs about 2,000, including journalists, camera persons and production staff