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Standard Group CEO Orlando links media layoffs to shrinking revenue

NAIROBI
By Mireri Junior | July 3rd 2020

Standard Group chief executive during an interview with Spice FM on Friday. [Bryan Amulyoto, Standard]

Standard Group chief executive Orlando Lyomu has said the ongoing retrenchment across media houses is a clear indication that the sector has been hit and that more needs to be done to cushion it.

 

Speaking during an interview with Spice FM on Friday, Orlando said even before the pandemic, the media industry had been on a slippery slope as a result of a drop in revenue and digital disruptions.

“The media industry has been on a slippery slope even before the Covid-19 pandemic as a result of digital disruptions,” he said.

He said the recent layoffs are tough decisions that have been taken by media house managers to save more people, adding that with the shrinking revenues, if nothing is done, a whole media house could go down.

“It is a case of the ship going down yet you have a few lifeboats, you must make a decision either way,’ he said.

On a question of how some of the media houses have sent home their staff via night SMS, Orlando said no job loss is human, but called for professionalism while taking the decision.

“As managers, we have to make a decision to save more people because the ship is going down, but we should be professional and explain ourselves to those affected why it is them and not the other guy.”

He urged the government to support the industry, saying the media is not just about the headlines and the journalists, but it operates in a bigger ecosystem that supports many people.

The CEO said if the media industry dies, all the content producers will lose a living, something that will have a negative impact on the economy.

Kenya Editors Guild Chairman Churchill Otieno urged the media house to bring onboard during the retrenchment period so that the public is aware of whatever is going on in the industry.

“The current situation where someone has been on TV for two or three years and all over sudden you don’t see him without being told what happened to them is unfair,” he said. 

The media industry has witnessed massive job losses since March this year with all employees across media houses forced to take pay cuts in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday, Nation Media Group has announced its intention to lay off some of its staff following plans to reorganise the business model.

The announcement came just a week after both Mediamax Limited and Royal Media Services Limited fired dozens of journalists citing shrinking revenue due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Standard Group is yet to send home any of its staff, but there are reports that plans are underway to downsize.

Minimise wastage

Orlando urged media owners to come together to eliminate waste and cut cost.

He cited the printing and distribution of newspapers where each media house is forced to meet its own cost when they can come together to minimise cost.

“There is no need of each media house having a printing press which only works for three to four hours when only one can churn out newspapers for all the media houses, or use one van to transport newspapers to various regions,” he said.  

Radio Africa group chairman Kiprono Kitony said unnecessary competition in the media has hindered the sector’s growth and led to a drop of revenue.

He called on media houses have a new approach to cut cost more so in areas such as newspaper distribution.

“Competition has hindered media growth for example in the print media, the four companies are forced to print their papers in Nairobi and arrange for their distribution countrywide when we can come together and cut cost,” he said.

Kitony also said there is a need for a unified academy to churn out competent journalists that are ready for the changing job market.

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