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Media layoffs mount as CNN announces it will make cuts this week

Stephen Battaglio, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

CNN employees are in for a rough week as the news network's chief, Chris Licht, told staff to prepare for a round of layoffs.

The cuts have been anticipated as CNN parent Warner Bros. Discovery is looking for cost reductions across the company as it tries to bring down debt.

Like the rest of the traditional TV business, CNN is also looking at a future with slowed growth in pay TV subscription revenue and a softening advertising market.

Licht said in a memo that those losing their jobs will be notified Wednesday or Thursday. He did not detail the extent of the cuts.

According to people familiar with the discussions inside the network, on-air contributors will be among the first to learn whether they are being let go.

Contributors are not employees but are under contract to serve as talking heads or experts appearing exclusively on the network. Most are kept on an annual retainer and are paid in the low six-figures. Bigger names earn as much as $500,000 a year.

News divisions tend to bulk up contributors for major ongoing stories, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the impeachment hearings. CNN is said to have more than 200 contributors.

 

One person familiar with the discussions said the cuts are likely to focus on employees in New York and Atlanta.

Licht has already said the network will cut back at CNN Originals, the unit that acquires and produces documentary series and films.

CNN is among a growing list of media entities undergoing belt-tightening measures as cord-cutting chips away at the pay TV subscription fees that help sustain traditional TV outlets. The market for TV commercial time is also softening, despite data that shows the economy is not in a recession.

AMC Networks announced it will make significant cuts across its business. Walt Disney Co. has also said it will impose a hiring freeze; Comcast has offered buyouts to longtime employees; and Paramount Global is reducing personnel as part of a company reorganization.

CBS on Wednesday announced a reorganization of its TV stations group that will also result in an undisclosed number of layoffs.

Streaming companies have also reduced staff, with Roku cutting 200 positions in response to a downturn in its advertising business.

©2022 Los Angeles Times. Visit at latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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