Panic grips Nation Media Group ahead of major shake up ordered by His Highness The Aga Khan to redeem battered image of sleeping with government

The shake up comes in the wake of public perception that NMG has gone to bed with the government and is slowly stifling media freedoms.

The company’s majority shareholder, Aga Khan has deployed a special team from Aiglemont Estate, France to probe activities at the Kimathi street based media house.

Aiglemont Estate is the global headquarters of His Highness The Aga Khan and it is the seat of the Board of Directors that oversees his business activities around the world.

The recent reinstatement of, Mr Eric Obino, as the Executive Editor in charge of Weekend publications after he was previously demoted as production editor and later retrenched in January is said to be part of the re-organisation being spearheaded by a special team from Aiglemont.

The shakeup comes in the wake of public perception that NMG has gone to bed with the government and is slowly stifling media freedoms which has led to some of its top talent handing their resignation letters and moving to rival media houses.

The Company’s newspaper sales, which are the main source of revenue, have also drastically dipped.

Former NMG’s Head of Broadcast division, Linus Kaikai and NTV Swahili anchor Jamila Mohammed have since resigned and moved to Royal Media Services to serve as Director of Strategy and Innovation and Managing Editor for the Swahili Desk respectively.

NTV anchor, Larry Madowo who resigned last month is also rumored to move to BBC while his co-anchor Victoria Rubadiri is said to also be heading to Citizen TV and join her Colleagues, according to media reports.

Recently, eight leading columnists for different NMG publications also resigned citing lack of editorial independence.

Insiders at NMG say the company is undergoing difficult financial times and the company’s financial reserves that stood at more than Sh 3 billion ($30m) have been depleted under suspicious circumstances.

Its share value has dropped from a high of more than Sh 300 ($3) in 2014 to now slightly above Sh 100 ($1) and its advertising revenue has dipped by more than 40 percent.

The company even pushed forward its retrenchment programme to this year a situation where it would have been forced to issue a profit warning for the year ending December 2017.

Similarly, circulation of its money-minting print products that include the Daily Nation, Saturday Nation,Sunday Nation has shrunk at alarming levels.

Reports indicate that the circulation of Daily Nation has dropped from an all high of 180,000 copies per day to less than 100,000, Saturday Nation circulation has dropped from more than 260,000 copies to less than 160,00 while the Sunday Nation which used to have a circulation of more than 320,000 is now doing less than 200,000.

Insiders at NMG suspect there is a scheme by some NMG managers to bring down the publicly listed company through ‘weeding out of perceived anti-establishment reporters and editors via the now annual vicious circles of retrenchments.’

“This annual vicious retrenchments are used by managers to victimise employees they hate or do not follow dubious instructions and not because of their performance making NMG a once trusted employee to face staff exodus,” one staffer said.

Senior editors and manager at the media house have also been accused of  doing business with government and politicians and hacking airtime in exchange for ‘lucrative tenders’.

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