Newsday next as sick economy mauls media

via Newsday next as sick economy mauls media 06 August 2014

WORKERS at Alpha Media Holdings (AMH), owned by businessman Trevor Ncube, have still not been paid their July salaries as the country’s ailing economy savages the media sector, can reveal.

This comes as staff at the government-owned Zimpapers group this week revealed management was mulling a 20 percent pay cut as the media industry takes a hammering from declining sales and poor advertising revenues in a failing economy.

Other sectors are also struggling, with many companies either cutting salaries or skipping payments for some months altogether when they cannot afford to pay.

Although President Robert Mugabe repeatedly claims the economy is on the mend, his government is also struggling to pay its workers and has even forced the taxman to chase after street vendors to raise more money.
AMH publishes Newsday, The Standard, The Zimbabwe Independent and the Bulawayo based Southern Eye newspapers.
During a hastily organised meeting Wednesday at the company’s offices in Harare, the group’s publisher, Rita Chinyoka, admitted that the company is going through a lean spell.

Chinyoka warned workers to brace for tough times ahead.

She told the workers to expect half salaries in their accounts this week.

Chinyoka was said to have been accompanied by the group’s human resources manager.

Workers who spoke to said Chinyoka was candid about the financial challenges facing AMH. She said she would be surprised if the company survives up to December.

“She told workers that the company was even failing to pay rentals at their present offices and they will be moving to Granitesite industrial area where they have their printing press in an effort to cut costs,” said one of the workers who requested anonymity.

The workers were told that high newsprint costs and a decline in sales and advertising revenue have hit the company hard.

AMH, like most companies in Zimbabwe, is going through hard times.

In February, the company merged the Newsday, The Standard and Independent newsrooms in an effort to reduce operational costs.
The company also stopped paying DSTV subscriptions for management and slashed petrol allowances for top executives to between 15 and 50 litres a month for senior managers.Ncube, who also owns South Africa’s Mail and Guardian newspaper, which was also said to be in trouble, could not be reached for comment.

He was said to be in a meeting with chief executive officers from Zimpapers and Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe to discuss issues affecting their media houses. understands that the issue of high newsprint costs was top on the agenda. Zimbabwe media houses buy their newsprint from South African companies.