The Mumbai Press Club on Sunday expressed "shock and dismay" over the "closure announcement" of the popular city daily 'Mumbai Mirror', and added its concern regarding the effect it will have on "journalist and non-journalist jobs in Mumbai and Pune".
Notably, an earlier statement circulated by Bennett, Coleman and Co (The Times Group) had said that the ‘Pune Mirror’ will be entirely shut, while the ‘Mumbai Mirror’ will be converted into a ‘weekly’.
The Mumbai Press Club, representing over 2,000 journalists of the metropolis, said that the statement by The Times Group carries "no indication on the future of the employees".
"...we fear the closure announcement will adversely affect more than 150 journalist and non-journalist jobs in Mumbai and Pune," it said.
"‘Mirror’, launched 15 years ago, filled the niche vacated by an earlier Times Group paper ‘Evening News of India’. In a few years it became part of the urban landscape covering Mumbai’s and Pune’s city-centric angst and problems, as well as its celebrities and entertainment hotspots. Mirror’s popularity made it a big brand; and the advertising it brought in proved its worth in terms of the profit it reaped for the company," the Mumbai Press Club said in its statement on Sunday.
The press club noted that among the reasons given for the closure of the newspapers by BCCL is the "economic downturn that has come with the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise in newsprint prices."
"The BCCL is the largest and most profitable media house in the country with annual revenues of $1.5 billion, and an average of over 30% returns on investment (ROI) in previous years," it acknowledged.
The Mumbai Press Club said, "All businesses have their ups and downs. If you have made good profits, then there are times when you must ride out the losses too. With the easing of the pandemic, one can see the economy and businesses looking up. For a small saving, it is not correct for the company to sacrifice such a powerful city brand and the jobs of so many employees. We urge BCCL to review its decision of closure and keep a good thing going."
The Mumbai Press Club also expressed its "deep concern at the violation of the law, and the jobs that are at stake with the closure of these publications."
"Sections 25(O) and 25(F) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 require prior permission of the government before departments and companies are closed, and employees retrenched. No such permission has been sought or taken. Moreover, ‘Mirror’ is a sister concern of the BCCL, and we demand that all the employees of these publications be accommodated in jobs and positions within the organization on the same terms," the statement read.
"This is not the time to put employees on the street, and the BCCL must show its leadership by doing business with a human face," the Mumbai Press Club stated.
The press club has put forward three specific demands in light of these announcements. These are:
"1. Review the decision to shut ‘Mirror’ as a daily newspaper and ensure continuation of the big city brand.
2. Ensure there is no retrenchment and all jobs of journalists and non-journalists are safeguarded.
3. In case of any rationalization, employees must be accommodated in similar positions in other departments on the same terms of employment," the statement concluded.
The statement by the Mumbai Press Club was signed by its Managing Committee and published on Sunday (December 6).