More media job losses looming as Nation Media Group announces fresh layoff exercise

Nation Center in CBD, Nairobi Photo/Courtesy

Long before the onset of the novel Coronavirus pandemic, media houses were already reeling from the dwindling advertising spends that forms the bulk of traditional media houses’ revenue. This has long led to massive layoffs within the media industry in the last two years.

And just when the dust could settle on the unfortunate layoff of Mediamax employees, another round of firing is looming in the horizon- this time, from Nation Media Group.

Nation Media Group, through its head of Corporate and Regulatory Affairs, Clifford Machoka has today announced that the media house will be reengineering its operations in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic that adversely impacted the media industry.

“The pandemic has resulted in global uncertainty and unparalleled challenges impacting most businesses adversely. Many companies have either shutdown or substantially scaled down operations due to the drastic decline of revenues. The media industry has not been spared with media houses globally including NMG, having been severely impacted.”

Mr. Machoka noted that the new reality brought about by the virus had necessitated the reengineering of Nation Media Group to accelerate its digital transformation. “The group seeks to be innovative with the objective to take up leadership in the mobile publishing landscape in Africa while passionately living our mission to positively transform society, by creating new value and generating quality, differentiated and engaging content to consume whenever they need it,” he said.

In April this year, the media house had slashed employee salaries in a pay reduction that ranged between 5 to 35 percent depending on individual employee gross salary. The media house had however, spared its staff earning a gross pay less than Sh 50,000 per month, a move that was lauded as caring about the financial wellbeing of the lowly paid staff.

Amid the dwindling advertising revenues, traditional media houses have been regarded as late adopters of technology having for a long time relied on advertisement and sale of newspapers as the main revenue streams. This has seen media houses fail to develop promising revenue streams in areas such as subscription services, live events and advance advertising.

The strife to acquire new revenue growth has further been stifled by insufficient alignment, weak coordination and slower-than-desired execution. It is not until recently that media houses in Kenya partnered with Safaricom to enable its subscribers access digital newspapers at Sh20 per issue a move that should have come earlier bearing in mind internet and mobile phone penetration in the country.