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There is high tension at Nation Media Group (NMG) after the company announced a major restructuring that will see the region’s leading media house close its radio business and one television station

An early morning communication by the company’s CEO Joe Muganda, who took over exactly a year ago, has sunk the hearts and ambitions of many employees, as Nation Centre sets the stage for massive job losses in the stations affected.

According to the new strategic direction, NMG will from today shut down Nation and QFM as well as QTV, which have been struggling for market share for both audience and advertising.

“In the past few months,” the company says in a memo to all staff dated June 30th 2016, “we have embarked on implementing a new strategic direction that ensures we secure our current business and position the organisation to win in the future. To achieve this we are cognizant of the changing trends in which individuals are consuming our products.”

It adds: “In line with this reality, we are reorganising ourselves with the objective of transforming the group into a modern Twenty First century content company embracing a digital/mobile first business model.”

The management said it is rationalising its broadcasting division, which will entail consolidating of its TV stations into “one strong multi-lingual television station under our flagship brand NTV.” This effectively means QTV, launched few years ago, is no more.

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The management also surprisingly decided to close its radio stations in Kenya and Rwanda, opting to transmit radio signal online. Those affected are Nation FM, QFM as well as KFM of Rwanda. “We are also scaling down our traditional radio business in Kenya (Nation FM and QFM) and Rwanda (KFM). We will keep a live signal and maintain an online presence in line with our digital strategy,” the memo says.

Falling rankings

These changes will inevitably result in the loss of hundreds of jobs at Kenya’s largest media house, adding to the pain of last year’s restructuring that pushed out over 50 staff from radio, TV and its newspaper segments.

“We do recognise that today’s announcement will be difficult for the affected employees and their families. The exercise will be carried out with due respect to our employees and within the Kenyan laws,” it says.

Nation FM and QFM have been falling in audience ratings since last and industry rankings often lump them among ‘Others’ due to their tiny audiences in a market controlled by peers like Citizen Radio, Radio Africa’s Classic 105 and Radio Jambo, among others. A rebrand of Nation FM, from Easy FM and poaching of some top personalities like Jimmy Gathu, have not helped shore up the ratings.

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It’s been a very difficult year for Nation Media Group, with falling circulation for its newspapers made worse by a good chunk of advertising going online and some big advertisers holding back on adverts due to some of its editorial decisions.

The company is expected to record a massive fall in revenues for the current year, but hopes for a lift next year from election-related advertising and increased consumption of media content.

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