The Image Connect

Let Mirror shine again, Mumbai Press Club to Times group

This is not the time to put employees on the street, the Press Club Managing Committee said after a virtual meeting on Sunday.

MUMBAI, Dec 6 (Image Connect) - Expressing shock and dismay at the closure of tabloid dailies Pune and Mumbai Mirrors, the Mumbai Press Club called upon the owners Bennett & Coleman Co to show its leadership by doing business with a human face and save jobs.

This is not the time to put employees on the street, the Press Club Managing Committee said after a virtual meeting today. The Club, which has over 2,000 journalists as members, called asked the Times management to review the decision to shut ‘Mirror’ as a daily newspaper and ensure continuation of the big city brand, desists from  retrenchment and safeguard all jobs of journalists and non-journalists and accommodate the employees in other departments in case of any rationalization.

Times group said yesterday that the ‘Pune Mirror’ will be entirely shut, while the ‘Mumbai Mirror’ will be converted into a ‘weekly’. There is no indication in the statement on the future of the employees, Press Club said and expressed fear that “the closure announcement will adversely affect more than 150 journalist and non-journalist jobs in Mumbai and Pune.”

‘Mirror’, launched 15 years ago, filled the niche vacated by an earlier Times Group paper ‘Evening News of India’. In a few years it became part of the urban landscape covering Mumbai’s and Pune’s city-centric angst and problems, as well as its celebrities and entertainment hotspots. Mirror’s popularity made it a big brand; and the advertising it brought in proved its worth in terms of the profit it reaped for the company, the statement pointed out.

Among the reasons given for the closure of the newspapers by BCCL is the economic downturn that has come with the Covid-19 pandemic and the rise in newsprint prices. The BCCL is the largest and most profitable media house in the country with annual revenues of $1.5 billion, and an average of over 30% returns on investment (ROI) in previous years. All businesses have their ups and downs. If you have made good profits, then there are times when you must ride out the losses too. With the easing of the pandemic, one can see the economy and businesses looking up. For a small saving, it is not correct for the company to sacrifice such a powerful city brand and the jobs of so many employees. We urge BCCL to review its decision of closure and keep a good thing going.

Meanwhile, quoting Sivakumar Sundaram, chairman of the Executive Committee - The Times Group, exchange4media reported that “Local/regional business bounced back during the festive season to register 95% volume recovery compared to previous year.”

The report - Festive season brings hope to Print media – by exchange4media said: “While ad volumes and revenues have been climbing steadily month on month since April 20, the festive period reaffirmed the eminence of print, the clear choice of advertisers to drive confidence and consumption in the economy. Times Response, the sales and solutions team of The Times Group, stepped up the effort to boost consumer and advertiser confidence since August with consistent messaging. It was a good beginning to the festive period with multiple bumper issues across our key markets. Armed with advertiser confidence, improved circulation and great response to advertising, the festival looked promising”, says, Sivakumar Sundaram, chairman of the Executive Committee, The Times Group.

The Mumbai Press Club, on its part,  also expressed its deep concern at the violation of the law, and the jobs that are at stake with the closure of these publications. Sections 25(O) and 25(F) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1948 require prior permission of the government before departments and companies are closed, and employees retrenched. No such permission has been sought or taken. Moreover, ‘Mirror’ is a sister concern of the BCCL, and we demand that all the employees of these publications be accommodated in jobs and positions within the organization on the same terms.