Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd, India’s richest media company and publisher of The Times of India, is considering trimming salaries across the board. BCCL, along with some 38 subsidiaries, employs upwards of 8,000 people. Over the past few weeks, at least two sections heads have told their teams to brace for cuts in one form or the other. From our conversations with people who have been told how their salaries might be cut, it emerges that the company is considering two options. One is to roll back all the hikes given during 2008 and to revise salaries to 2007 levels. The other is a slab-based cut, where those making up to Rs30,000 a month will suffer a 10% cut; those making between Rs30,000 and Rs75,000 will get a 15% cut and anybody making above Rs75,000 a month will see their salaries trimmed by 20%.
The first option has apparently come in for a huge amount of resistance from editorial staffers because 2008 was a good year in terms of salary hikes, thanks in part to the TV18-Financial Times business daily project, which reportedly came close to poaching BCCL’s prized top editor, Jaideep Bose. It was reported then, and contentSutra has not independently verified this, that generous and widespread salary hikes were given at the top of the editorial hierarchy as part of BCCL’s efforts to hold back Bose and in part also on Bose’s insistence that his colleagues get a good deal, too. So obviously the revision of salaries to 2007 levels is not going to be a popular option. So apparently it now looks like the slab-based cuts might come into effect.
We asked BCCL CEO Ravi Dhariwal if the company was considering one of the two options. “There are some proposals and we are considering them, but as of now, there has been no decision,” he said, declining to comment further.
Counterfactual: Now that things are so dramatically different–we are talking about salary cuts instead of 100% hikes–one can’t help wonder what would have happened if Bose had decided in favour of TV18-FT at the end of the high-profile poaching effort. The TV18-FT project hasn’t launched and it doesn’t look like it will, anytime soon. Would the paper have launched in those good days if Bose had come on board, only to soon sail into today’s choppy seas? Would the expensive print project have bogged down TV18, which anyway faces criticism that it has spread itself too thin, threatening its stability? Is TV18 glad today, that Bose, better known as Jojo, did not actually join?!