A two-sided story

MUMBAI: The rupee going into a tailspin or prices shooting through the roof; be damned. The wheels of general entertainment channels (GECs) seem to be in continual motion, what with a new soap here or a new reality show there. Makes one wonder as to what exactly these television majors do to keep their employees happy and productive, despite taxing schedules and OTT deadlines.  

Well, the answer lies in the kind of incentives and rewards these channels, rather - their human resources teams, are willing to heap on their staff just so as to make them want to come back every morning, ready for the grind.

And we’re not simply talking boxes of chocolates or free tickets to movies here. Imagine an iPad being gifted for a clean and decorative desk or a five-star hotel stay in Australia or even a shopping spree in Bangkok...

An example of the kind of moolah these companies are willing to splurge on their employees is Star India, which took its top management (nearly 35 people) on an extravagant tour down under a month or two back.

While Viacom18 arranged separate tours to exotic destinations like Egypt or more popular ones like Bangkok early this year. In a similar vein, Sony took its employees to Dubai last year whereas Zee ferried its entire team to the beaches of Thailand. We hear Sony is currently planning an itinerary for its annual trip this year.

While these junkets (even called off-sites) don’t come cheap for these companies, there’s a catch: they aren’t entirely about fun and booze. There are leadership and team-building exercises, presentations on progress reports, panel discussions about the future etc. built into these trips.

But with employees not expected to shell out anything from their own pocket, they’re fun nevertheless.

However, there’s another side to this ‘Television (GECs) shining’ story.

Even as most of them are coughing up crores of rupees on such junkets, there are other channels like news channels that are finding it difficult to survive in the present economic situation.

There have been widespread instances of companies handing out pink slips to their employees in the past few months.

First, NDTV shut down its Mumbai operations, followed by Network18 relieving around 350 employees across the network in little over a month. Next in line was Bloomberg TV which terminated the services of nearly 30 employees and the latest to join the bully gang is Ananda Bazar Patrika (ABP), which is learnt to have issued notices of non-renewal of service contracts to as many as 127 employees and speculations are ripe that even Business World magazine is closing shop soon.

According to a study by the New Delhi-based Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ASSOCHAM), the weak rupee hasn’t spared even Bollywood producers, who’re shying away from shooting overseas. In the past four months, foreign film shoots have dropped 30-35 per cent owing to the volatility in currency.

Given this not-so-bright side of the television (and film) industry, one wonders if life is truly a soap opera for GECs... 

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