Slump in ads and newsstand sales. Coronavirus impacts media business in Slovakia

Some went out of business, some are reducing salaries. Will the media need state help to keep going?

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: Sme)

Two weeks after coronavirus measures were put in place in Slovakia, the Trend business weekly laid off about one-quarter of its editorial staff. The official reason was a slump in its advertising incomes due to the coronavirus pandemic and a need to cut expenses.

Some have questioned the reasons that the publishing house, the News and Media Holding, gave, pointing to the fact that most of the fired reporters had been critical towards the owner of the weekly, the Penta financial group. The truth is, however, that several media outlets in Slovakia have been impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

For the past few weeks, publishers and broadcasters in Slovakia have been seeking solutions to keep their business going, despite the already-recorded significant drop in their advertising incomes and in newsstand sales.

“We wouldn’t survive the drop in our revenues without austerity measures,” admitted Alexej Fulmek, head of the Petit Press publishing house, which issues the Sme daily and the regional network of newspapers under the MY brand. Petit Press partially owns The Slovak Spectator too.

While some are cutting their operation costs, others went for a decrease in salaries, changed the periodicity of some titles and even started dismissing their staff.

Some publishers would welcome state help to keep their employees and handle the current crisis that they expect might be worse than what they went through back in 2008 and 2009.

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