Hong Kong’s Top TV Broadcaster to Cut 10% of Staff

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(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong’s largest television broadcaster said it is cutting its workforce, citing an economic slowdown and a “severe situation” as months of social unrest have rocked the city.

Television Broadcasts Ltd.’s 3,500-person staff -- excluding artists -- will be reduced by 10% to improve cost efficiency, according to an email to staff members from Chief Executive Officer Mark Lee.

“Recession is a foregone conclusion,” Lee said in the email. “No business sector including advertising, television, newspaper and other media will be spared.”

The broadcaster, known in the city as TVB, is responding to a business downturn in the city after being accused by protesters of having a pro-Beijing bias in its coverage of unrest that began in June. Demonstrators have called for a boycott of the company’s programs and lobbied brands to withdraw advertisements from it.

TVB shares fell 1% in Hong Kong trading Monday, bringing their decline this year to 20%.

Lee said most of the affected staff members will be informed before the end of the year and will receive a special gratuity payment, without saying how much it would be. Unaffected employees will receive an annual bonus of half a month’s salary, on average, compared with one-month last year.

The increasingly violent protests have led to sharp declines in retail sales and tourist arrivals. Financial Secretary Paul Chan earlier this month forecast the city’s first budget deficit since the early 2000s.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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