NBC Universal to Cut Almost 500 Jobs

Dec 4, 2008  •  Post A Comment

NBC Universal will cut almost 500 jobs, or 3% of the company’s worldwide labor budget, as part of the cost-cutting plan it announced two months ago.
“This kind of message is never easy, but it is the right step to make, and the right time to make it,” NBC Universal President and CEO Jeff Zucker said in an internal e-mail at that time. “We have no choice but to respond quickly to the external economic forces that are affecting the entire world economy.”
Mr. Zucker also warned of difficulties to come.
“We are living in a time of unprecedented economic challenges, and it is increasingly clear that the worldwide economic slowdown will continue well into next year.”
In October, Mr. Zucker had decreed $500 million in companywide cuts but left it to executives to decide how and where to make the reductions. It is the second wave of cutbacks and restructuring at NBCU in three years.
According to people familiar with the situation, some NBC News bureau operations are affected, including the Washington bureau, where a handful of people assigned to “Dateline NBC” are gone. Among the casualties in the Los Angeles bureau are correspondent Mark Mullen. Veteran Dallas-base correspondent Don Teague also is among those affected.
At CNBC, which is having a boom year because of the economic turmoil, the cuts are said to be far fewer than the 80 reported elsewhere. All the cuts at the financial news network involve off-air personnel.
Among those opting to leave is Josh Howard, head of the long-form unit that just this week won its third Emmy in his three-year tenure. The unit will not be disbanded. In addition, prime-time show “Big Idea” is on hiatus, but host Donny Deutsch remains part of CNBC’s business plans with monthly specials and long-form programming, as well as appearances on NBC’s “Today” show.
“Nightly News” and “Today” are said to be minimally affected, with trims being dealt with mostly by retirement and buyouts.
In addition, Amy Chiaro, a well-regarded senior producer from “Today,” had resigned to become co-executive producer with Mindy Moore of next season’s much-anticipated syndicated talk show starring Dr. Mehmet Oz. The expectation is that Ms. Chiaro will not be replaced but that her duties will be parceled out among others.
TelevisionWeek yesterday reported that the company is cutting 30 positions in its ad sales and ad-sales research departments as part of the budget-cutting.
The news comes as Viacom also announced job cuts.
(Editor: Baumann)
(4 p.m.: Added “Today,” “Nightly News” information)

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