Four executives at i-Cable News have said in a statement that they feel “deeply sorry” over the handling of the newsroom’s restructuring, promising there will be no more layoffs over the coming two years.

The statement came two days after the firing of 40 newsroom staff on Tuesday, with the award-winning China news team, Hong Kong desk staff, and the heads of international, local and financial news resigning in protest.

File photo: StandNews.

The four executives were slammed for failing to consult team heads before the lay-offs. Staff also questioned how the list of staff members to be fired was devised. During a confrontation with staff, manager Anderson Chan said reporters were “bargaining like thugs.”

“Why would you fire the best video editor? Why would you fire the whole News Lancet team?” one staffer asked in a video shared online.

I-Cable directors Edna Tse and Hui Fong-Fai, along with managers Chan and Oscar Lee, said in their statement that a “fundamental restructuring” to cut costs was needed because of operational difficulties. They added that the list of staff to layoff was made jointly by them and the human resources department.

“We understand that the decision was not perfect, and we could have communicated better with each of the team leaders in the process,” the statement read.

“We would like to reiterate that the purpose of the restructure is to let the newsroom achieve manpower and resource sharing… such that deployment can be made more flexible, and we can continue to produce quality news coverage and public services programme through this new operation mode.”

They also said that the company’s management promised not to change i-Cable News’ editorial policy, pledging that there would be no more layoffs or pay cuts in the coming two years. They said that they would proactively promote staff with potential and review job grades and salary arrangements.

Earlier this week, the Hong Kong Journalists Association called on the broadcaster to reconsider its decision. “This firing not only is a huge hit to staff morale but also affects the quality of news coverage,” it said in a statement.

‘Cut i-Cable’

In response to the debacle, netizens had called for people to terminate their i-Cable subscription: “Now that the China team has resigned, I can terminate my subscription,”read a comment in i-Cable China team’s Facebook post announcing their departure.

“Add oil, I will terminate my contract and voice my discontent as a client. I will continue to support you all no matter where you go,” said another netizen.

The firings mark a second major restructuring of i-Cable’s newsroom within a year.

In August, three senior engineers were fired as a part of “regular restructuring,” over 300 staff later signed a petition, calling the move a “heavy blow” to the news department.

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Candice Chau

Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.