Next Digital

Hong Kong media giant Next Digital ‘to outsource 50 designers and artists’ in cost-cut bid

Move sparks concern over employee rights and company loyalty, which if affected, may result in poorer quality of work

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 June, 2017, 6:21pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 June, 2017, 10:07pm

The publishing arm and sister publications of Apple Daily, one of Hong Kong’s most widely circulated Chinese-language newspapers, will outsource about 50 graphic designers and artists in a cost-cutting measure, the Post has learned.

The decision was revealed by workers’ unions at parent group Next Digital on Thursday night, as part of a move to outsource operations in phases.

A source at Next Digital said the outsourcing of graphic designers and artists would deprive such staff of job security, steady pay, and benefits.

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“[The outsourcing plan] means everyone will get a pay and welfare cut,” the source said. But “[contract workers] can get jobs from other companies” to supplement their income.

Next Digital, which is controlled by tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, publishes newspapers and magazines in Hong Kong and Taiwan, including the tabloid-style Apple Daily newspaper and Next Magazine.

The media giant recorded a loss of HK$394 million in the last fiscal year – nearly HK$70 million more than the previous year.

The Hong Kong Journalists Association questioned in a statement if the move to save costs can “safeguard the rights and interests of employees”.

It added: “We worry whether employees can really [make choices] without pressure from the management with regards to the outsourcing arrangement.”

The association said staff should reject arrangements to outsource their jobs “at this stage”.

Mark Simon, Lai’s aide, declined to comment on the outsourcing plans.

Independent lawmaker and former journalist Claudia Mo Man-ching lamented that these cost-cutting measures were a reality for most media businesses.

“It’s a very sad development but I understand ... it’s obvious to everyone that the conventional print media could be dying because everything is available online these days and it comes for free,” she said.

“[Outsourcing ]is not right but if it’s a business consideration ... they are trying very hard to cut costs, that I understand.”

Without loyalty to the company, Mo was worried that media quality may suffer if more jobs in the industry are outsourced.