News / 18.09.2012

Commercial broadcaster to cut staff in spite of good profits

Linus Atarah

MTV on Monday announced plans to enter into what in Finland is called co-determination negotiations – consultation process between employers and the trade union on staff restructuring – with workers in all of its units except in Radio Nova.

“We think the co-determination negotiations are not necessary at all said”, Kari Pyrhönen, Chairman of Programme Workers Association of MTV. Profits have been good or very good from 2008-2011, he said, and it is difficult to understand why the recession has brought them down so quickly since only three months ago the CEO Heikki Rotko was saying business was going fine, not as well as in 2011 but fine all the same, Pyrhönen said.

According to the commercial broadcaster, the need for staff reduction stems from unfavourable market trends which call for operational changes. Altogether about 15 per cent of the staff, most of them members of the Union of Journalists in Finland may lose their jobs.

The media operations of Swedish Bonnier Group-own MTV had a turnover of 284.90 million Euros last year and a profit of 11 per cent corresponding to 31.4 million Euros.

In a statement issued Monday, the board of the programme workers association of MTV (MOT) who belong to the Union of Journalists in Finland, expressed shock over the sudden change of events with regards to the planned job cuts.

According to MOT, at the beginning of the year the finances showed a positive trend, not to speak of the fact that the company has repeatedly had good, if not excellent profits in the past years. MOT is wondering why the sudden collapse of revenue and poses a series of questions over the MTV’s action.

“One can ask whether the company doesn’t have any buffer funds at all from the past years to help it overcome the difficult times. Have all profits, up to the last cent, been transferred to Sweden? Doesn’t the Swedish owner have any understanding of our situation which is linked to the crisis in the euro zone and weakening in consumer demand? Are we just merely a cash-making machine which has to be immediately restructured within two months after a fall in revenue”, asks the board of MTV MOT.

According to MOT, the unrealistic results expected by Bonnier has put the leadership of MTV under pressure and they have pressed the panic button by resorting to staff reduction in a situation where MTV’s goal has been to become one of Finland’s leading news and current affairs channels in Finland.

”Now staff reduction is being resorted to which will diminish and narrow down quality”, says MOT

Pyrhönen says the company’s action will adversely affect the competitive edge of MTV.

“If our employer cuts down our programmes in television and in network and kicks out our professional employees, of course it can affect our competitiveness”, he said.

Petri Savolainen, Director at the Union of Journalists in Finland who paid a visit at MTV to assess the situation raised concern over the fact over media companies are simply sending off workers instead of investing in journalism, for instance in the new media.

According to Savolainen, it shows that media companies no longer respect journalists.

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