by Thinus Ferreira
"Mass retrenchments" are looming at eMedia Investments' eNCA (DStv 403) TV news channel in South Africa according to insiders, affecting staffers in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban across various workflow divisions that will see scores of people lose their jobs in so-called "consolidation" of work responsibilities.
eNCA staffers once again reiterated the ongoing refrain, heard constantly again since last month, without prompting, when they talk: "Staff morale is at an all-time low" inside the TV news channel.
TVwithThinus already reported that eMedia plans to shutter its etv News & Sport channel on its Openview satellite service at the end of March which will see 45 workers lose their jobs. eMedia said the etv News & Sport channel is "no longer viable".
TVwithThinus already reported earlier this week that eMedia Investments plans to get rid of over half of its video editors and senior video editors by the end of April who were served with Section 189 retrenchment letters on Monday in a process overseen by eNCA eNCA managing director Norman Munzhelele.
According to sources, just 11 out of eNCA's 25 long-form and news video editors are safe, with the newsroom that has moved to a system where producers, writers and reporters have to do their own editing, making video editors obsolete.
eMedia in response to a media query said "We acknowledge your questions and queries, however this is an ongoing, internal matter that is sensitive and will be facilitated with the utmost respect, whilst preserving the dignity of our staff".
"The company is committed to all relevant and applicable labour legislation."
Sources told TVwithThinus that eNCA staffers were called to a meeting on On Wednesday morning in Johannesburg where the mass retrenchment process was announced by Norman Munzhelele affecting eNCA staffers across Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town.
eNCA plans "consolidation" broadly across five different workflow areas.
Norman Munzhelele's plan is to "consolidate" the desk editor and programme editor positions at eNCA, meaning that basically the programme editors will be lumped together with desk editor duties.
"Consolidation" is also coming to producers and guest bookers - with the result that guest bookers will lose their jobs.
The company has also adopted a new archive strategy that will result in archive team staffers getting axed.
The plan is further to integrate sports into news which could mean that the sports news team will face job cuts too.
Then eNCA wants to "drive efficiencies" in Cape Town and Durban - meaning that staff working in those cities will likely see their job numbers cut.
According to sources in the past few weeks a desk editor, assignment editor and programme editor resigned at eNCA.
"eNCA is bleeding staff as it is, but they're cutting even more," said another insider. "Staff morale is at an all-time low."