Mumbai: Bennett, Coleman and Co. Ltd, which publishes India’s biggest selling English-language newspaper, cut salaries and froze pay after advertising income fell 25%, chief executive officer Ravi Dhariwal said.
The Mumbai-based group, owner of ‘The Times of India’ newspaper, has decided to roll back 6-40% of salary increases offered to employees this year, according to an e-mail by Dhariwal to the company’s staff earlier this week.
“At this moment we can only work on costs, which we have done,” Dhariwal said over the telephone from New Delhi, confirming the contents of the e-mail. “And now we need to figure out innovative ways to increase revenues.”
Profit at the Times group, which saw revenue rise to $1 billion (Rs5,140 crore) in July, fell at least 50% after advertising income slumped and newsprint costs soared by as much as 70% last year, according to the e-mail.
Industry-wide advertising fell 16% in the US last year and 2009 may be the worst year yet, according to a study by the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism.
US newspapers eliminated 5,000 newsroom jobs, or about 10% of newsroom employees, the authors of the study said.
Dhariwal declined to comment on what further steps the company may need to take if the global recession continues to hurt revenue. Income from advertising forms 90% of Bennett Coleman’s revenue, he said in the e-mail.
‘The Times of India’ was the highest selling English daily, with a readership of 13.3 million, down from 13.6 million in the previous year, according to the Indian Readership Survey released in October last year. The ‘Hindustan Times’ was second at 6.3 million and ‘The Hindu’ third with 5.2 million readers.
The ‘Hindustan Times’ is published by HT Media Ltd, which also publishes Mint.