South African media group Primedia to cut jobs

Media group Primedia says it has begun to notify employees of its intention to proceed with retrenchment consultations in accordance with section 189 of the Labour Relations Act.

This decision follows an extensive strategic review process which scrutinised every facet of the business, the group said in a statement on Thursday (16 July).

“The challenging economic environment in South Africa, rapid technological change and new entrants in the media sector, has placed significant pressure on media businesses to adapt and evolve, in order to stay relevant.

“This has been further compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic, and South Africa’s national lockdown on our key clients and industries.”

Primedia said that important consideration has been applied to a number of initiatives to reduce the impact of job losses across the group.

However, the group said it has’ become abundantly clear’ that it cannot successfully pursue the necessary strategic imperatives and ensure sustainability in the long term in its current modality.

“The expected impact on our people is a watershed moment for us, as an organisation that recognises their importance in all we do and what we represent,” said Phumzile Langeni, interim chief executive officer.

“This is a sustainability strategy we had hoped not to have to deploy. We are committed to managing this process with sensitivity and consideration to all affected employees while following the process set out in law.”

South Africa’s media has been particularly hard hit by the country’s coronavirus lockdown.

On 7 July, Media24 announced a number of closures and restructuring in its newspaper and magazine portfolio, which will affect 1,100 positions.

The group said that it will consider the closure of five magazines and two newspapers, outsourcing and reducing the frequency of its remaining monthly magazines, taking two newspapers digital-only and reducing staff in related support services.

This follows a similar move by Caxton Publishing in May 2020, where it announced that it would exit the print media business.

The closure of its magazine division impacted 10 well-known publications in South Africa, namely: Bona, Country Life, Essentials, Food & Home, Garden & Home, People, Rooi Rose, Vrouekeur, Woman & Home and Your Family.

Caxton cited the same reasoning as Media24 in the announcement: declining revenues in the print media space as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, which exacerbated the steady decline seen in the sector before the crisis hit.

Read: Media24 announces magazine and newspaper closures – more jobs affected

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South African media group Primedia to cut jobs