Saturday, July 5, 2008

Editors don't care? 4th floor orders?

Kecil tapi gah! That's the teaser advertisement posted by Berita Harian several days before the broadsheet goes tabloid this week. The ad simply means Small but Mighty! BH goes the NST way which went tabloid earlier.

The BH people believe that size can make a huge difference in circulation. The NST felt the same way too, but didn't quite got what they planned. NST's circulation still hovers around 130,000, maybe a bit more with all the sensational news these past few days.

By going tabloid, BH goes into direct competition with its Harian Metro, which had been eating into BH figures for some time already. BH people won't admit it though.

Readers want content, more than size. Maybe it's better for BH to just say that the rise in newsprint prices force it to downsize, and save cost. Accuracy and credible reporting can get any newspaper far.

But not the kind that's seen on page 2 of Friday's BH. The big colour picture shows PM Abdullah Badawi chairing a meeting of the Northern Corridor. Conveniently, the paper left out any mention of the Penang, Perak and Kedah CM and MBs in the caption!

I thought the picture shows how practical our leaders are - they can be opposite sides of the political divide, but can sit and discuss developments openly for the sake of the nation and people. Obviously, BH didn't see it this way.

Utusan Malaysia's page 2 carry almost the same picture, but made no mention of the Kedah MB in the caption.

Reporters lazy? Editors don't care? Or both?


Anonymous said...

It is not the cost of newsprint which FORCED BH to go small. It is its dwindling circulation which worries the management.
And bear in mind, this is the same management which turned NST small, sold off Malay Mail and got some Fengshui master to change the traffic direction at Balai Berita, change the masthead of NST from black to red and realign the office of the top officers to ensure it didnt face sharp edges, so to speak, to prolong their stay.
So this same management feels that going small is the way to prop up BH circulation which is now hovering around 150,000 (20,000 more than NST) plus school, hotel and airline copies.
What the staff feel is that BH lacks leadership. The same problem besetting NSTP and NST.
In the first place, Hishammuddin Aun shouldn't be the GEIC. He lacks knowledge (a mediocre sports reporter), experience and guts.
One should remember, Hishammuddin became the group editor of BH by apple appolishing Abdullah Ahmad.
Translating every copy of Dollah Ahmad's articles which appeared in NST for BH. He would carry bottles of wine for Dollah whenever he travelled overseas.
He repeated the same thing with Kalimullah and ended up as GEIC.
So what is lacking at BH are leaders.
Manja Ismail is a third class reporter. Now Manja is more interested about golf and attend glamourous events like Hishamuddin.
No one is looking seriously at the paper.
So what can we expect? Expect BH to take the same path of the NST and Malay Mail.
With gas and fuel hike coupled with ad stop coming from opposition ruled states, the group will crumble.
And who to blame? By the time we got the answer, NSTP is already full of shit.

Anonymous said...

NSTP memang menghadapi time yang sukar. Memo CEO baru-baru ini dapat gambarkan keadaan di masa-maka akan datang.

Cost Management Initiative
Special Allowance
Option to convert EPF (RBS Portion)

Although financially, we had done well in recent years, nevertheless, the current economic climate, both globally and locally, present a real challenge to us. In the recent years, we had been blessed by higher advertising revenue and measures on cost efficiency programme; where all of us put in effort to meet our KPIs. But now, to meet our year-end 2008 profit target will honestly be arduous.


Newsprint cost alone represent 40% of our total cost of doing business. Just two days ago, we finalised the 3rd quarter purchase of newsprint at a price of USD900 per metric tonne. This level of newsprint price dangerously presents a record-high in the past 30 years. Although we will not be instantly hit due to the current six-months newsprint stock that are available in our warehouses, however, it is a certainty that our cost of operations in 2009 will be colossal. Other cost elements such as distribution, inks, metal plates, films, air-freight (i.e sending our newspapers to Sabah & Sarawak), electricity and utilities have recently swollen.


As you know, our business is largely driven by the behaviour of advertising expenditure ('adex') of the country. For the first six months of this year, we had done reasonably well by meeting key targets. Due to this, we were able to achieve the desired profit up to June 2008. While we will continue to push hard for higher revenue, on the other hand, I cannot predict the same pace of growth for the remaining second half of this year.

1) Cost-Initiative Programme

In a nut-shell, we may be posed with a mismatch of revenue against cost, that is, our revenue will not grow as expected and at the same time, our costs will balloon up. On this premise, I would like to call on all of us to be mindful of any cost saving opportunities. For this purpose, I would like to outline the new "rules" relating to costs:

· Judicious use of newsprint (control of newspaper pagination and wastages)
· Close control of overtime
· Staff transfers and relocation will be on restricted basis
· Staff training will be limited to HRDF approved programmes only (where we will be entitled for reimbursements)
· Judicious resource allocation for overseas assignments
· Find opportunities to reduce cost of air travel by using cheaper airlines
· Control the usage of electricity:
q Switch-off lights when area is not occupied (toilets, smoking rooms, meeting rooms)
q Switch-off lights during lunch hour
q Switch-off all PCs and printers at the end of the day
· Recycle or reuse printed papers for taking notes

There will be other department-specific measures that will be undertaken and will be spearheaded by the relevant Heads of Department.

Although it is arguable that the savings arising from the cost management initiative above may not provide substantial financial impact to our bottomline, but it is only appropriate that the Company's conduct of operation reflects the current climate of difficulty facing the Company and nation's economy at large.

I would like to emphasise that while we observe the cost management initiative above, I hope you would understand that there are certain elements of our business that are essential of which we will continue to invest in; such as promoting our products, investment to protect or increase our market share, etc.

Reflecting back, we were faced with an even more difficult situation in 2001. The level of interest rates at that time skyrocketed; the Company's cashflow was in dire straits and there were instances where salary payment was behind schedule. Although the current situation is not as grave as in 2001 and our cash flow is currently strong, nevertheless, we should be mindful and conserve as much as we can; while we carry the hope for the economy to rebound.

2 (i) "Special Allowance"
(ii) Option to convert EPF (RBS portion)

At the same time, the Government had recently announced an increase in petrol prices and electricity tariffs. This has resulted in rise of prices of consumer goods. Undoubtedly, these will affect staff's economics on a personal basis. This is the very reason on why we had carefully designed the cost management initiative above to not personally affect the benefits to employees, at least for now. Due to this, the Company is compelled to structure some means to help mitigate this impact to employees. They are as follows:

(i) "Special Allowance"

In the months leading up to the next cycle of salary increment (which traditionally will take place in March), the Company will make a "special allowance" payment of RM100 to employees ranked Manager and below. The payment of "special allowance" will be made on a monthly basis together with the regular salary payment for a specified period from 1 July 2008 to 31 March 2009.

(ii) Option to convert EPF portion into salary

Currently, the Company pays into every employee's EPF account with an amount over and above the statutory requirement of 12%. This is a benefit to all employees granted by the Company. This "extra" EPF payment ranges from 6% to 7% depending on years of service. While there are employees who appreciate this benefit as a form of future savings, there also those who would choose to have cash-in-hand instead. Due to this, the Company is allowing all employees to opt for conversion of this benefit into cash. Should an employee choose this option, the "extra" EPF payment will be converted into salary payment. The option is available to be made by all employees by submitting an application to Human Capital Department by 15th July 2008. (An "EPF Conversion" form will be made available in HCS). This option will end on 31st March 2009; where on that date, the Company will revert to the normal arrangement of crediting the "extra" EPF towards the employees' EPF account.

However, unionised employees are subject to the laws contained in the respective Collective Agreement. For clarity, unionised employees are encouraged to seek advise from the Union Representatives.

Thank you.

Dato' Syed Faisal Albar
Chief Executive Officer

20 June 2008