The media industry has seemingly finally hit a hiatus in line with the country's tough economic times with the latest most affected media house being Mediamax Network Limited which houses numerous national stations including K24 TV and Milele FM.
The station is set to lay off what is anticipated to be over 100 of its employees in what is considered a move to reposition itself in the wake of the prevailing economic downturn and loss of its major revenue streams.
Sources from the broadcaster informed this writer that all members of the staff were summoned by acting CEO Ken Ngaruiya on the midmorning of Tuesday, October 8, for a briefing.
In a notice to the Ministry of Labour and Social Services dated September 30, Ngaruiya had indicated that layoffs were inevitable. The Tuesday morning meeting was called by the company to formally notify the employees of imminent job losses as required by law.
The affected employees are expected to start receiving firing letters after the one-month notice period lapses somewhere in late October, the employees were told in the staff meeting.
"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.
"In accordance with the provisions of Section 40 of the Employment Act, No 11 of 2007, Mediamax Network Limited hereby gives one month notice of the intended redundancies," part of the notice read.
On August 23, Mediamax rebranded in an effort to appeal to younger viewers with new shows, but now it seems the company is taking the next major step to reassert itself in the market by reorganising its workforce.
The move came days after celebrated Citizen TV anchor Hussein Mohamed announced his departure from the Kilimani-based broadcaster after an impressive 10-year run at the top.
In a Twitter post, the anchor announced that he was taking a break to concentrate on personal projects but that only raises eyebrows on what is truly rocking the media industry.
Other media houses are also reportedly reorganising in an attempt to brave the tough economic times asphyxiating legacy media in Kenya leaving employees in fear of imminent dismissals.
An insider has intimated to Kenyans.co.ke that the Standard Group Plc has sought the services of an unnamed Dutch firm to oversee what the company is calling 'convergence'.
This would involve merging the workforce of its various mass communication outlets which include KTN News, KTN Home, Radio Maisha and The Standard newspaper in an effort to shrink its wage bill as well as improve efficiency and synergy.
Its employees have, however, interpreted the move as a restructuring exercise and are reported to be bracing for an inevitable firing season.
Nation Media Group, on the other hand, has reportedly abandoned its old-fashion hiring style in which it offered its staff members permanent contracts opting to hire journalists on a contract basis where they are paid per story.
All this is happening in the backdrop of SportPesa's controversial firing of all its 400 employees citing tough business environment after the state increased taxation on gambling.
SportPesa Chief Executive Officer Ronald Karauri announced on September 28 the firm's board had resolved to quit the Kenyan market for good. Betin, another betting firm, all closed its operations and laid off staff citing similar frustrations.
These betting companies had proved to be major revenue sources for local media with all jostling for a piece of their generous advertising revenues after the Government of Kenya, the one-time biggest advertiser banned the advertisement of its services, tenders and job applications in February 2017.
Instead, the government launched its own newspaper My.Gov, which it distributes as an insert in select local papers.
This is also virtually panning out into the season with the highest rate of a mass exodus of journalists from mainstream media.
Several local journalists jumped to the opportunity of working with British broadcaster, BBC, when it launched it's Ksh1 billion East Africa Bureau in July 2018. Big names like Lary Madowo, Sylvia Chebet, Mercy Kandie, and Peter Mwangangi left their respective employers to work for the public-funded BBC.
Some new entrants into the media scene like Switch TV and Mt Kenya TV are already feeling the economic heat. In July 2019, Switch TV, which was launched in September 2018, sent home 37 of its employers including two-top rated news anchors who had been poached from local legacy media.
The team had only reportedly worked at the station for nine months. Mt Kenya TV, on the other hand, sent home some eight employees in August this year after facing financial woos barely a year after launch. Reports also indicated that the throngs of journalists poached from among other stations, RMS' Inooro TV had gone for months without pay.
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