Two senior managers at the Nation Media Group (NMG) commercial division have been sent home, it has emerged. Gilbert Kinoti, Commercial Manager – Circulation, Nation Newspaper Division was sacked while Reuben Onyimbo, the Commercial Manager – Subscriptions & Emerging Regions was suspended, inside sources reveal.
Though the official line is that the two were targeted following the media house’s falling circulation revenue, independent sources indicate they were sent packing following the unearthing of a syndicate through which NMG has been losing millions of shillings.
The sacking comes about two years since NMG sacked long-serving general manager for circulation Sam Mutetei after he was discovered to have allegedly established a parallel distribution network in Nairobi for personal gain.
However, still, the media house’s print sales have taken a beating in recent times but which is mainly attributed to perception it is leaning towards the Jubilee administration and the advent of digital media.
According to some sources, the sales of the Sunday Nation, the media house’s best selling paper, have dropped from more than 320,000 to less than 200,000. Daily Nation circulation is said to have declined from 180,000 copies per day to less than 100,000 while Saturday Nation print sales have dropped from more than 260,000 copies to less than 160,000.
The media house has been reinventing itself in the last two years by retrenching staff and streamlining its operations to cut costs and seal revenue leakages. It has adopted a converged model and digitised operations to keep pace with a changing media landscape.
The firing of the two also comes at a time a team sent by His Highness the Aga Khan, NMG’s main shareholder, is auditing the company to determine what ails it following dismal financial returns in the last two years. Kenya’s leading media house recorded a 20.5% drop in 2017 profit before taxation (PBT) to Ksh 1.95 billion, from Ksh 2.46 billion in 2016.
Turnover shrank 6% from Ksh 11.3 billion to Ksh 10.3 billion, as advertising and circulation revenues reduced.
The newspaper division was hardest hit. Revenues from Daily Nation dropped 10%, The East African 21%, Business Daily 11%, Daily Monitor (Uganda) 3% and Mwananchi of Tanzania 12%. While NTV’s income grew by 12%, it was devoured by costs which went up by 14%, resulting in a 58% drop in in general operating results. Income from the digital division went up by 42%, registering the highest growth in the group during the year.