Surgery starts at NewsX, 78 face the axe

MUMBAI: It was a black Saturday for the NewsX staff, the English news channel which came under financial cloud and saw ownership change hands within a year of launch as the original promoters, Indrani and Peter Mukerjea, exited after struggling to fund the high-cost operations.

The new owners, NaiDuniya promoter Vinnay Chhajlani and former Businessworld editor Jehangir S Pocha, have started the surgical process. They have asked 78 people to submit their resignations and take three months salary in advance, multiple sources say.

The trimming includes staff from editorial and technical divisions. “We were given current month’s salary along with an advance of three months and asked to sign the resignation letter,” says a senior editorial staff.

Clarifying the position, a company spokesperson said: “When NewsX was purchased by IndiMedia in January this year, it was carrying the infrastructure and resources that were originally created to enable the launch of multiple channels. We are now focusing on NewsX and streamlining and strengthening its operations. All previous plans to launch multiple channels have been put on hold. This has made it imperative for NewsX to prune and rightsize its operations, both in terms of infrastructure and people.”

“Many of us joined the channel before it launched. We worked in leading TV news brands like CNN IBN, NDTV 24X7 and Times Now. We have worked hard for the channel and it is heartbreaking to know that after putting in all the efforts, we have been asked to leave in such a manner,” another senior editoral executive said.

Meanwhile, the new management is reviewing the business and planning an overhaul of the channel. Multiple sources say the channel will don a new look, have a new name and relaunch sometime in September.

NewsX, however, will not stop hiring. “We will continue to hire talent in specific positions and strengthen the channel's operations, distribution and branding,” the spokesperson explains.

NewsX landed into trouble very early in life with editor-in-chief Vir Sanghvi leaving the company amid controversies. The channel failed to make an impact and ratings stayed elusive. After the buyout, the new owners introduced a slab-structured pay cut policy to stave off 10 per cent of employee cost.

NewsX has a tough road ahead as the general English news channel space is being fought fiercely among Times Now, CNN IBN and NDTV 24X7.

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