WORKING CONDITIONS AND EMPLOYEE SATISFACTION IN LOCAL MEDIA

The worsening working conditions is one of the crucial problems triggered by the recent financial downturn of the local media. In many local media outlets, it is seen that the headcount and number of employees are reduced, the salary levels are insufficient, and the workload and working hours increased due to financial difficulties (such as limited advertising revenues, low circulation, increase in publication/broadcast costs, etc.) (IPI, 2019 ; MEDAR, 2020). On the other hand, financial insufficiencies in local media outlets also lead to a decrease in the technical and equipment capacity of the outlets, thus causing local publications/broadcasts to be limited in terms of produced content and its scope (MEDAR, 2020 ; IPI, 2021).

In order to identify these problems in more detail, questions to measure the satisfaction of local media employees with their working conditions were included in the field research. In this context, during the survey statements about the institutional capacity and working conditions in the outlet they work for were conveyed to local media employees, and they were asked to rate their satisfaction levels out of 1 and 10 (1 strongly disagree-10 completely agree).

The data collected from this process is analyzed by classifying them in 4 categories (agree, neither agree nor disagree, disagree, statement is not valid) during the analysis phase. The data obtained as a result of this review reflect that the satisfaction level with working conditions in local media can vary according to the type of local publication/broadcast and region location of the outlets. .

The Satisfaction Level with Financial Capacity and Working Conditions

According to the results of the research, 66.4% of the surveyed local media employees confirm that there are financial problems such as “low circulation & audience rate, insufficient advertising revenues, insufficient budget for print publications & broadcasting, technical equipment and employee salaries”. The distribution of the results by publication/broadcast types reveals that the local outlets in which the economic hardships are experienced most intensely by the employees are local magazines (72.2%) and local digital news platforms (68.3%). Employees in local television stations, on the other hand, have fewer (52.6%) economic problems compared to other outlets. According to the data obtained from the employees, the outlets where financial capacity shortages are most severe are usually located in the Southeast (80%) and Aegean (73.8%) regions, while fewer local media employees of the outlets in the Black Sea region (57.7%) think there are financial problems in their outlets.

Among the most common problems in terms of working conditions in the local media, wrongful dismissals, lack of contract and social security, insufficient salary, working hours exceeding legal limits and disproportionate workload stand out (IPI, 2019; MEDAR, 2020). These increasing problems, which are generally associated with economic struggle in outlets, also create serious obstacles for local media employees to access the fundamental employee rights in the local media.

Similarly, most of the surveyed local media employees (63.6%) confirm that the financial problems in the outlets they work for negatively impact their working conditions (salary, working hours, number of employees, adequate technical equipment, etc.). The data show that especially the working conditions in local magazines (69.4%) and radio stations (68.8%) deteriorated due to financial problems in the outlets. The highest number of employees who think that the economic problems in their outlets impact the working conditions negatively are found in the outlets located at the Southeast Anatolia (77.8%) and Mediterranean (69.2%) regions.

The Satisfaction Level with The Number of Employees

According to the data, more than half of the survey participants (59.7%) think that there are sufficient number of employees in their outlet. While local newspapers (67.2%) are the outlets with the highest level of satisfaction with the number of employees among all publication/broadcast types, the lowest level of satisfaction (47.4%) is seen among local television employees. According to the regional distribution, participants working in outlets located at the Black Sea (70.9%) and Central Anatolia (67.8%) regions mostly state that they are satisfied with the number of employees of their outlets.

The Satisfaction Level with Technical Equipment and Hardware

68.3% of the participants state that they are satisfied with the technical equipment and hardware capacity provided by their local media outlets for news production. The data show that employees in local magazines (80.6%) and local newspapers (69.4%) are highly satisfied with the technical equipment capacity in their outlets. However, employees in local radios (61.3%) find the technical equipment and hardware capacity of their outlets less sufficient compared to employees in other local outlets. The local media outlets having the highest level of employee satisfaction with the technical equipment and hardware capacity, are generally located in the Black Sea (80.6%) and Aegean (72.3%) regions.

The Satisfaction Level with Fringe Benefits

Another important indicator of institutional capacity in the local media is the fringe benefits provided during news production, such as transportation, equipment and food facilities. More than half (61.1%) of the local media employees who participated in the research state that these fringe benefits are provided in the outlets they work for. According to the data, the publication/broadcast type with the highest satisfaction rate from the provided fringe benefits provided is among the employees of the local newspapers (66.3%) while local digital news platforms’ employees (54.1%) have the lowest satisfaction level. Employees with the highest satisfaction level (71.1%) from the provided fringe benefits moslty work in outlets located in the Southeastern Anatolia region.

The Access to Labor Contract and Social Security

Basin-IS [Press Labor Union in Turkey] contracts within the scope of 212 Press Labor Law play an important role in ensuring fair working conditions and professional rights in local media outlets. 212 Press Labor Law establishes the legal framework that determines the employment contracts, working conditions and personal rights of intellectual workers in all outlets operating in the print media (newspapers, magazines, periodicals, news and photography agencies, etc.). By providing legal assurance to the employees in the media sector, the 212 Press Labor Law and the press employment contracts created within this scope are of great importance for employees to access the fair and appropriate working conditions. However, research data reveals that most employees in the local media work without a contract. According to the data, only 39.3% of the local media employees who participated in the survey state that the employees in their institution work under a 212 press labor contract, or under regular labor contract in the media outlets which is not in the scope of the 212 Press Law (local television, radio and digital news platforms). While 278 out of 1222 employees who participated in the survey left the employment related questions unanswered for various reasons, 31% of the employees who answered the survey confirm that the employees in their institution do not work under an employment contract. The data shows that the outlets with the highest rate of employment contracts are local newspapers (51.5%), while the outlets with the lowest rate of employment contracts are local digital news platforms (24.1%). When looking at the regional distribution, it is seen that the outlets with the highest rate of employment contract ownership among employees are mostly located in the Central Anatolia region (51.2%), while a smaller number of employees (30.6%) are working within the scope of employment contracts in outlets located at the Aegean region.

The Satisfaction Level with Salary

Another striking finding among the research data is that although the rate of working under the employment contract is low, local media employees find salary amounts in local media outlets sufficient and determined in line with the legal regulations. According to the data, 61.5% of the surveyed local media employees state that their salaries are adequate and determined according to legal regulations in the outlet they work for. While it is seen that the satisfaction level with the salary level is quite high among local newspaper (69.7%) and local television (68.4) employees, local digital news platform employees find their salaries less sufficient (54.8%) compared to employees in other local media outlets. The results show higher salary satisfaction level among employees are in the outlets located at Central Anatolia (69.4%) and Eastern Anatolia (65.3%).

The Satisfaction Level with Working Hours

Working hours that are prolonged and exceeding legal limits is one of the most challenging problems for employees in the media industry. Survey results conducted within the scope of the research also reflect that irregular working hours are quite common in local outlets. According to the results, only 37.2% of the survey participants confirm that the working hours in their outlets are determined in accordance with the legal regulations and that they are provided with overtime pay. 25.9% of the participants state that these conditions are not met in the outlet they work for. Among the data obtained, it is noteworthy that the highest number of employees (27.4%) who stated that their outlets are not providing legal working hours and overtime pay are found in local digital news platform. Given that digital news platforms are not covered under the 212 Press Labor Law, it is not suprising to observe employee rights violations in an unregulated subsector of the media. Local newspapers, on the other hand, are the second medium with the highest number of employees (26.3%) who have problems in obtaining legal working hours and additional overtime pay. In addition, among all publication/broadcast types, it is seen that employees in local televisions are more satisfied with the working hours and overtime pay conditions (44.7%), and there are fewer employees (21.2%) in local televisions who cannot reach these conditions. The highest rates of employees who are not provided with legal working hours and overtime pay are found in outlets located at the Mediterranean (36.1%) and Eastern Anatolia (30.5%) regions.

The Access to Employee Rights & Benefits

It is known that one of the most common problems faced by media professionals is the difficulties experienced in accessing their professional personal rights. These difficulties, which are generally caused by the lack of employment contracts, prevent many media employees from using basic professional rights such as social security, health insurance, compensation, annual and casual leaves. However, the collected data show that employees in the local media do not have difficulty in accessing their personal rights. According to the survey results, more than half of the participants (61.9%) state that they can benefit from personal rights in the local outlet they work for. It is seen that the rate of benefiting from personal rights is high especially among local newspaper (70.6%) and local television (65.8%) employees, while fewer employees (48.8%) can benefit from personal rights in local digital news platforms. In the regional distribution, the employees who can benefit the least from personal rights mostly work in local outlets in the Mediterranean (56.4%), while the outlets with the highest rate of benefiting from personal rights are in the Central Anatolia region (70.2%).