But wait, there’s more! At the end of a week of intense laying-off in television, the Media Mob has learned from several sources at the network that ABC executives are considering cuts to the news division. The focus would be on a slimming down of political units the network bulked up during the presidential campaign.
Rumors about the cuts have been circulating for weeks now around the ABC News offices, but the rumors have numbers: The cuts could affect as many as 35 staffers and would take effect in the new year.
In recent days, a number of other media companies with large television divisions have moved to reduce their staffing costs. On Thursday, Dec. 4, Viacom announced that it was cutting more than 850 jobs or roughly 7 percent of its workforce. The same day, TV Newser first reported that NBC Universal will be slashing some 500 jobs across various divisions of the company, amounting to 3 percent of the work force.
If the numbers at ABC seem low comparatively, that may be because of strict controls, according to one knowledgeable source, which the network maintains even in the good times to avoid having to slash and burn in the bad. (Nice idea!) In the past, the division has laid off as many as 30 people at one time, and the same order of magnitude would probably apply this time around. “There’s no hard and fast plan at the moment,” said the source. “Nothing has been written in stone.”
“The division has always managed these kind of things through attrition and the elimination of open positions,” the source added. “That would probably account for the vast majority of any positions that might be affected. The pain you’re seeing in other news divisions, we don’t expect to see anything like that here. But we’re all living through this terrible economy.”
Back on October 24, The Observer reported that David Westin, president of ABC News, had sent out an email that morning, warning staffers that ABC News is not “immune from the downturn,” and that the news division would be implementing new “guidelines” to “reduce administrative costs,” which included canceling all of its magazine and newspaper subscriptions, eschewing holiday parties, and scaling back on travel accommodations for executives.