TVB is to freeze pay and abolish the 13th month salary provision for its 3,300 production and administration staff next year. Television Broadcasts Limited said yesterday it had sent letters to the workers to inform them of the decision, which was approved by the company's board on Wednesday. The company, which celebrated its 34th anniversary last month, blamed the economic downturn for the decision. 'Nearly all industries in Hong Kong, including ours, are facing a very tough time in staying afloat in this rough business climate,' a TVB spokesman said. 'As a responsible company, we have been doing our best in the past few years to broaden our sources of income and reduce expenditure whenever possible and this will continue to be the case in the years to come.' However, the company also pledged that if the economy improved next year and TVB's financial performance reached a reasonable level, it would consider giving a discretionary end-of-year bonus to staff. Staff, including those at the station, its official publication TVB Weekly, TVB.COM and TVB International have been asked to sign new contracts before the end of the month. The station's 700 contract artistes are not affected. Employees who refuse to sign can seek termination payments as allowed under labour laws, TVB said.