MCOT to Slash Staff by Half, Offers Early Retirement

A news report on the Oct. 26, 2020, demonstration to the German Embassy by MCOT. Image. YouTube.

BANGKOK — A state-owned media corporation on Tuesday announced an early retirement program for its employees in an attempt to cope with massive losses – the latest media agency in Thailand to feel the pain from the pandemic slump.

MCOT, a state enterprise that operates TV channels as well as the Thai News Agency, said in a statement that as many as 300 employees have signed up for the offer, which comes with a cash payout of 35 times the latest salary they received.

“MCOT will select applicants who meet the criteria [for the early retirement],” the statement said. “We affirm that this program is not a layoff, but a voluntary participation by employees.”

An executive said earlier this month that the corporation is seeking to slash staff numbers down to 700, from the current roster of 1,300.

In a memo shared within the company, MCOT director Sirote Ratanamahatana said the decision was made in response to the financial crisis suffered by the company, and was approved by the Ministry of Finance, who owned the company’s shares.

“The Digital Disruption resulted in the persistent decrease of television viewers and radio listeners. Advertising revenues dry up,” Sirote wrote. “And the latest factor is the coronavirus situation, which led to an uncontrollable and endless impact on the economy.”

Sirote also said the staff reduction will be accomplished by voluntary resignation, but the policy will not affect the current salaries.

The coronavirus pandemic is a bane to many media agencies already struggling with the digital and social media revolution in Thailand, which saw a sharp drop in TV and radio consumption in recent years.

Revenues in the media industry shrank by 20 percent in the first seven months of 2020 compared to the same period last year, according to a report by Media Intelligence survey firm.