Nation Media Group, the largest media conglomerate in East Africa, has announced a group-wide reorganisation that will lead to staff layoffs across the region. In a statement released on Wednesday, 17 January 2018, Nation Media Group said the reorganisation is part of a strategy to transform it into “a modern Twenty First Century digital content company”.
This new strategy direction, first announced in 2016, is a response to changes in media consumption and industry innovations, and is intended to secure the Group’s current business. A summary of the strategy published on the Group’s website says it entails the consolidation of its two televisions stations, NTV Uganda and NTV Kenya, into one multilingual station. Additionally, it scaled down its Rwanda-based property, KFM and two radio stations in Kenya , Nation FM and QFM.
In Uganda, Monitor Publications Limited, on Thursday 18 January, issued a statement that contained similar language as that released by its parent company. The statement that was signed by Monitor’s Managing Director, Mr Tony Glencross, said that there would a “minor reduction” of its workforce as part of the consolidation. It added that the layoffs would be “carried out with due respect to our employees and within the Ugandan laws”.
In a report on the Daily Monitor website, Glencross promised that the affected journalists would be treated with respect and compassion.
The developments at Nation Media Group mark the latest upheaval in East Africa’s media industry. In early December 2017, The Observer in Kampala became a weekly newspaper because it was no longer financially sustainable for it to publish three editions a week. Later that month, The Standard Group in Kenya implemented a long-expected downsizing of its staff.
Dr William Tayebwa, head of the Makerere University Department of Journalism and Communication, says these developments do not signal the end of print journalism in the region.
“I believe print media will not die but continue to downsize and adapt to online platforms,” he says.
“The journalists must retool to be fully multimedia professionals.”
Monitor Publications Limited statement