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Primedia Group announces possible job cuts as restructuring begins

The group has initiated a Section 189 process to consult affected employees across both Primedia Broadcasting and Primedia Outdoor.

Picture: Pixabay.com

JOHANNESBURG - The Primedia Group announced on Thursday it would be restructuring its business as it battled a tough economic climate, compounded by the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group initiated a Section 189 process to consult affected employees.

Primedia has become the latest media company to announce possible job cuts as the industry struggles with declining advertising revenue worsened by COVID-19.

In mid-June, the SABC announced it was proceeding with its retrenchment process due to its dire financial position, adding it would consult with its over 3,000 employees about plans to cut jobs and restructure the public broadcaster.

In early July, one of the biggest media employers, Media24, announced it would be closing a number of publications and laying off staff, saying the pandemic “accelerated the pre-existing and long-term structural decline in print media, resulting in a devastating impact on our own already fragile print media operations with significant declines in both circulation and advertising since April”.

The South African National Editors' Forum started a fund for retrenched media workers, and has received donations from MTN to date.

Primedia's notice affects all divisions of the group, including Primedia Broadcasting and Primedia Outdoor. But it has not indicated how many employees could be affected.

Factors such as economic challenges, rapid technological change and new entrants to the market had placed significant pressure on its businesses, said acting Primedia Broadcasting CEO Geraint Crwys-Williams.

"The state of the South African economy, exacerbated by COVID-19 and coupled with the pace of changes in technology and digitisation has put significant pressure on Primedia Broadcasting. After a strategic review of the business we implemented a number of efficiency and cost saving solutions, but unfortunately these have not been sufficient to steady the business amidst the impact of the pandemic," said Crwys-Williams.

"We regret that this means we now have to take decisions that will more directly impact our people, namely implement a Section 189 process. This decision was not taken lightly but it is, we believe, necessary to secure a strong, sustainable Primedia Broadcasting for the long term."

Primedia Broadcasting is home to platforms including Eyewitness News, 947, 702, Kfm and Cape Talk..