COVID-19 Impact : Media face hard times in Chitwan district
Chitwan : With the slump in economic activities in the wake of COVID-19 menace, media have been adversely impacted here of late.
The advertisement market declined so heavily that media hardly get anything for revenue. It has resulted in dwindling media industry. Four daily papers, 13 weeklies and a monthly magazine are published from Chitwan district where there are five local televisions, 23 FM radios and 24 news portals. Most of them are struggling hard to sustain now for lack of advertisement.
Director at Kalika FM and TV Kalika, Deepak Poudel, said, “Time has come to pay working journalists and staff by taking loan. There are 32 employees in my media. Although they were paid regularly, they are paid once in two months now. The operation cost of the media is Rs 800 thousands.” As the advertising companies witnessed slump, they stopped providing advertisements.
Govinda Aryal who runs Chitwan Post said there is less than 33 per cent return of the monthly investment in media. “Before lockdown, the daily used to publish advertisement worth Rs 50,000 every day which now decreased to Rs 10,000. The operation cost in this media with 32 employees is Rs 900 thousand but it earns one third of investment.” He expressed sheer worry how he would run media. “I’ve planned to request my staff to stay on unpaid leave citing the crisis,” he shared the plight.
Moreover, Suresh Chandra Adhikari, who runs a news portal also shared that there was alternative to retrenchment because less than half per cent of the operation cost (Rs 800 thousand per month) was gained. There are 14 staffs at his office.
Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) has not received any complaints about the staff lay-off. However, reporters to the media run from Kathmandu except few have complained of not getting salary regularly. Those sharing information on non-payment wants to remain anonymous.
Interestingly, the journalists (editors and reporters) themselves are the media owners. They have nowhere to complain, nor are able to resume media.
In this connection, FNJ Chitwan Chapter Chair Radheshyam Khatiwada said, “Both the journalists and media entrepreneurs have been complaining of declined business. They have verbally informed that they were now unable to sustain media and provide regular salary.”
Although all newspapers were closed during lockdown, all of them have resumed but struggling hard. There are 236 FNJ members and 60 additional active journalists in Chitwan district.