Anxiety is sweeping through Mediamax Networks Ltd offices as the redundancy notice lapses on 30th October. The tension was heightened today when the human resources office called a staff meeting tomorrow at 10am.
The circular from human resources manager Maureen Wandera was brief and economical with information, only noting that attendance is mandatory.
The meeting is critical for both Mediamax management and its employees. Tomorrow, Wednesday 30th is the last day on the retrenchment notice issued to all staff a month ago. The company says it has to trim down its payroll due to a dip in business, the notice says.
Looking at the wording of the notice, the cut is expected to be deep and painful, with sources indicating the broadcast division, especially K24, will bear the brunt. The company targets 150 employees in the exercise.
“Mediamax regrets to advise that owing to the recent economic downturn and loss of its main revenue streams, it shall reorganize its staff structure and abolish some positions as part of its cost-cutting measures,” Mr Ken Ngaruiya, the acting CEO, said in the letter sent to the county labour officer and staff.
I trust that you are keeping well. Kindly note that we will hold a staff communication meeting on Wednesday 29th (sic) October, 2019 at DSM place on 2nd Floor. The meeting will begin at 10:00 am.
Kindly accord us your usual cooperation and mandatory attendance. We request that you keep time.
“In view of the above, the services of some of its employees will be rendered superfluous, thereby necessitating the termination of their employment on account of redundancy.”
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Advertising revenues have shrunk, thanks to the closure of betting firms SportPesa and Betin coupled with the government freeze on media spend and a general slowdown in the economy. Mediamax is owned by the Kenyatta family, Deputy President William Ruto and other local investors.
Most of Mediamax media outlets are yet to break even, leaving Kameme Radio and People Daily as the stable’s rainmakers and main sources of salaries. The rest, including K24, Milele FM, and its host of vernacular radio stations barely break even, with Kameme TV described internally as a flop.
It is understood that K24 will undergo a major restructuring. Besides top anchors and newest signings Betty Kyalo and Anne Kiguta, K24 boasts an array of TV stars with varying degrees of influence and pay packages.
They include Erik Njoka, Franklin Wambugu, Mwanaisha Chidzuga, Isabella Kituri, Anjlee Gadhvi, Karen Karimi, Shawn Osimbo, Rose Gakuo, Shiksa Arora, Wanjiku Mwendwa, Sam Njoroge, Nancy Onyancha, Fred Indimuli, Torome Tirike, Tony Timase and Ken Wariahe, among others.
As an early indication of its intentions, Mediamax management forced nearly 30 journalists, including presenters to take compulsory leave, in a tactic aimed at reducing compensation expenses. Those sent on leave at K24 include Caleb Ratemo, Job Mwaura, and Franklin Wambugu.
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Some senior editors were asked to take pay cuts but refused, someone close to Mediamax HR office disclosed to BT, a pointer to the hard maths going on at DSM Place head office. The last retrenchment in 2015 is said to have cost the company millions of shillings in paying up for pending leave days, making it take calculated steps this time around.
Biggest casualties at K24 are expected on the business desk and sports and news desk as well as presenters.
Meanwhile, to reduce its HR burden, the company is also considering shifting from permanent employment to contracts. It is understood that those who survive the restructuring will be made to sign new employment terms under the contracting system.
Mediamax will have it easy as its employees, even journalists, are not unionisable.
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