Media24 to retrench more than 500 employees as print media hard hit by Covid-19
DURBAN – Naspers’s Media24 said on Tuesday that it planned to retrench more than 500 people and close some of its magazines as the Covid-19 pandemic hits its operations.
Media24 said it planned to cut about 510 jobs and close 660 positions across its print media and distribution divisions.
Media24’s head of research, reporting and communication, Egbert de Waal, said the company was in consultation with its employees.
“The process is starting today (Tuesday), and I can’t divulge much at this stage, because we are at the beginning of the consultation process with the employees.
“What I can say is that the company tried all means necessary to avoid job losses, but the outbreak has had a negative impact on the group’s revenue. Unfortunately, the group has decided to take this route,” De Waal said.
The print media has been hard hit since the national lockdown was implemented in March, with advertising and sales revenue declining by 40 percent since the beginning of the lockdown.
The Media24 announcement comes after Caxton closed its entire magazine division in May, and Associated Media Publishing, which published brands such as Cosmopolitan, Women on Wheels and House and Leisure, closed.
Last week, public broadcaster SABC said that it was planning to lay off about 600 full-time employees and 1 200 freelance workers.
The print media’s circulation figures have been falling in the past few years.
The Audit Bureau of Circulations said consumer magazines declined by 20.1 percent year on year at the end of the fourth quarter of 2019.
Media24 said that it would close Move and the Hearst portfolio, which consists of Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Bicycling and Runner’s World, while Drum was set to be published in a digital format only.
The group said it would also close Son op Sondag, Sunday Sun, the Eastern Cape edition of Son, and four community newspapers in KwaZulu-Natal.
It said it would publish Volksblad, Die Burger Oos-Kaap and The Witness newspapers as digital editions.
Media24 chief executive Ishmet Davidson said the pandemic had accelerated the pre-existing and long-term structural decline in print, resulting in a devastating impact on the group’s already fragile print media operations, with significant declines in both circulation and advertising since April.
“For many of our print titles, the benefits of prior interventions to offset the structural declines and keep them on the shelf no longer exist, and they have run out of options in this regard,” Davidson said.