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TV18 Lays Off 30% Employees: Reports; Web18?

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TV18 Broadcast Limited, the broadcasting subsidiary of Network18, has laid off around 300 – 400 people as part of its restructuring exercise last week, reports Livemint, citing three sources familiar with the development. It notes that Network18 MD Raghav Behl has not responded to their queries yet and did not respond to their phone calls.

On being contacted by MediaNama regarding any layoffs in Web18, the divisions CEO Lakshmi Narasimhan declined to comment and pointed us towards Saket Saurabh, GM – Corporate Development. IBNLive CEO Rajan Srinivas did the same. Saurabh did not respond to our calls, and Shampa Kochhar, Group Head of HR for Network18 was not reachable at the time of writing this article.

The Mint report says that the TV18 layoffs were across various departments including editorial, sales, technical and marketing departments and accounted for 30% of TV18’s estimated workforce of 1,300 employees. The worst affected were production teams which include camera men and editors, feature programming teams and entertainment programming teams. Citing an unnamed TV18 employee, it also mentioned that the company has merged the operational teams of CNN IBN and IBN7 while a significant number of employees at CNBC Awaaz’s Delhi operations were laid off. Several feature shows like ‘Living It Up’ have been reportedly discontinued while teams for other shows have been reduced significantly.

This development follows several media reports from last week which had indicated that TV18 was looking to restructure its operations and reduce its workforce significantly, as part of a cost cutting exercise due to the lackluster advertising environment and government regulations like the 12 minutes advertising cap on broadcasters. Last week, Dilip Venkatraman, CEO of CNN-IBN and IBN7, had also left the Network18 group after an eight year stint with the company.

Last month, TV18 had reported declined revenues of Rs 119 crore for the quarter ending ending June 30, 2013, down from Rs 127 crore in the same quarter last year. The profits marginally grew to Rs 14.7 crore for the quarter, up from Rs 14 crore in the same quarter last year. While the general news operations had posted a loss of Rs 1.4 crore for the quarter, the business news operations had reported declined profits of Rs 17.5 crore for the quarter.

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Moving Towards Integrated Newsrooms

Citing a senior Network18 source, The Hindu said that this downsizing was partly due to the planned creation of integrated newsrooms, where journalists are required to work across both Internet and TV medium.

Remember that Network18 has already setup a integrated business newsroom which comprises of broadcast and digital news outlets in the business media space such as CNBC-TV18, CNBC Awaaz, CNBC-TV18 Prime HD and Moneycontrol.com. The company had appointed Senthil Chengalvarayan as the Editor-in-Chief of this business newsroom.

On the Web18 front, it is worth noting that R. Jagannathan was appointed Editor-in-chief of Network18’s web and publishing divisions, and in May, the Forbes India editorial team was asked to leave. We’re not sure if this switch to an integrated newsroom will impact the web businesses, specifically, IBNLive, FirstPost, IBN Khabar, Forbes India online and In.com. We’ll update in case we hear back from Saurabh or from our sources.

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