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CNN, NBC To Cut Jobs

MICHELLE MILLER NOROVIRUS FLU BUG WALKER ELDERLY OLD
CBS
CNN will lay off 500 to 1,000 people, the biggest cuts in its 20-year history, and NBC plans to reduce its work force by at least 5 percent, or about 300 jobs, network insiders said.

The CNN cuts, which were widely expected after America Online's acquisition of CNN's parent Time Warner Inc., will be announced next week, according to network sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The layoffs primarily will involve the company's online division, the source said. Last fall, CNN executives told employees that each position was being reviewed as part of a network-wide reorganization coinciding with the AOL Time Warner merger. Federal regulators approved that deal Thursday.

The industry publication Daily Variety reported Friday that NBC plans to slash up to 10 percent of its work force of 6,000, with cuts coming in every division of the company, including entertainment and news, as well as cable networks MSNBC and CNBC, and NBC-owned stations.

But a source at the network, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press those figures were "very high." The source put the number at 5 percent to 10 percent.

The reduction will be achieved partly through attrition, according to the source.

NBC spokeswoman Kassie Canter confirmed that a hiring freeze has been in effect since October, but she would not comment on any network plans for layoffs.

CNN announced plans last August for a major restructuring, saying it would aggressively integrate its television and internet operations. However, no details, including how many jobs would be cut, were announced.

On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported that 500 to 1,000 jobs would be cut, mostly in the online division. Sources at the network confirmed those plans to the AP.

The network does "not speculate on personnel matters," CNN spokeswoman Sue Binford said.

CNN employs about 4,300 people, with 2,800 of those at its Atlanta headquarters.

NBC's reported layoffs would come as the advertising market sours and programming costs soar.

The NBC broadcast network in particular has had a less than stellar season. Although it clings to first place in prime-time ratings for the season to date, four of its seven new series were instant flops.

NBC has failed to launch a new hit sitcom in years, and has fallen behind in developing reality shows, such as CBS' Survivor.'

Entertainment President Garth Ancier was fired in December, and his successor, Jeff Zucker, told reporters Wednesday he would seek more variety in NBC's programming. But he added, "We need to find some comedies that work" beyond established shows like Friends.

In 1998, faced with escalating costs to keep hits like ER and Mad About You on its schedule, NBC eliminated about 250 jobs.

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