Hong Kong: Media industry urged to take proactive steps to avoid industry cuts

Hong Kong’s media industry must urgently adapt to the unprecedented circumstances as a result of Covid-19 and an overall decline in turnover to avoid massive job losses that would decimate the industry. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) call on Hong Kong’s media to take proactive steps to support media workers and avoid layoffs or unpaid leave.

Photojournalists wearing protective masks attend a police press conference in Hong Kong on October 8, 2019. Credit: Nicolas Asfouri / AFP

Following an internal email from the South China Morning Post, reporting its turnover in the first quarter fell by as much as 50 per cent year-on-year, the HKJA expressed concern media organisations “willimplement cost-saving measures, including layoffs”. Before the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated existing issues, media companies were already struggling with decreased advertising revenue as a result of ongoing protests in Hong Kong and uncertainty, according to Campaign Asia-Pacific.

Despite the Hong Kong government’s proposed wage subsidy scheme, employers are still able to cut wages, or request employees take unpaid leave, which remains a key concern for worker unions and representative groups. “If employers require employees to take unpaid leave, it is equivalent to a salary reduction”, the HKJA said.

The HKJA called on “media operators to consider other positive measures to avoid layoffs or request unpaid leave whenever possible”.

It said: “Affected news practitioners may seek assistance from the Hong Kong Journalists Association if they encounter labor-management problems.

The IFJ said: “Media globally is going through unprecedented times in an already challenged economic environment. But what is clear is that the media is as critical as ever, particularly in times of crisis as we are experiencing now. Around the world there are examples of how government, media and journalists’ unions are working together to ensure that the media as a cornerstone of democracy remains protected and strong to weather this storm.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on [email protected]

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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