Local broadcaster TVB will lay off over 300 staff and restructure its TV broadcasting and eCommerce businesses, by merging two channels and two eCommerce platforms.
According to an official statement by TVB, it said the company will create a new channel named “TVB+” by combining the content of its current J2 and Finance, Sports & Information (FSI) channels. Currently the broadcaster runs five free channels, including Jade, J2, FSI, TVB News and Pearl.
Meanwhile, it will re-allocate most of the finance-related content such as programmes related to the Hong Kong stock and property markets, to its current Jade and its planned TVB+ channels. “As such, we expect TVB+ will appeal to a larger combined audience than our current J2 and FSI channels, and thus also deliver a stronger value proposition to advertisers,” the statement reads.
TVB said it will transition into a new four-channel line-up, including Jade, TVB+, TVB News and Pearl from December. The overall production of programming hours will come down as the number of channels it runs is reduced from five to four.
"While we will continue to invest strongly in our prime-time production, we will reduce our production budgets for fringe-hour content and discontinue any programs that fall short of their desired audience or commercial impact," the statement said.
As part of the restructuring plan, TVB will reduce the headcount in this business unit by over 200 staff. As a result, TVB expects to save a further HK$100 million in content costs in 2024. The restructuring plan requires the approval of the Communications Authority of Hong Kong (CA). It expects approval in the first quarter of 2024.
Speaking of its eCommerce business, TVB will merge the Ztore (士多) online platform with Neigbuy (鄰住買) in December with Ztore becoming an integral part of Neigbuy. The Ztore website and mobile app will cease to operate on 19 December, and approximately 100 staff currently involved in the Ztore business will be laid off. The group expects to eliminate approximately HK$50 to 60 million in annual fixed costs and overheads from its eCommerce business.
“We believe that in eCommerce, sustainable growth in the future requires moving away from reliance on a single platform and price-driven sales. Instead, it is crucial to establish a cross-platform, omni-channel industry ecosystem that combines entertainment, information and sales,” said the statement.
In fact, TVB has experienced at least three consecutive years of financial losses, following losses of HK$407 million in the first half of 2023, deficits of HK$807m in 2022, HK$647m in 2021 and HK$281m in 2020. In the first half of 2023, eCommerce revenue dropped by 41% to HK$271 million. It blamed a post-pandemic slowdown in online commerce shopping activity.
As part of its effort to optimise the allocation and utilisation of corporate resources, TVB’s subsidiary video and social platform “big big channel” suspended its operation in May. This decision was in line with TVB's cost rationalisation strategy, which targeted services that had not achieved the anticipated economic returns.
Back in March, TVB laid off 5% of its staff as part of its cost optimisation and resource management plan. In a letter to employees, TVB’s executive chairman Thomas Hui said in order to ensure that the company could adapt to market changes, it decided to carry out cost optimisation management to ensure the company's business stability and sustainable development.
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