Media layoffs mount as CNN announces it will make cuts

CNN employees are in for a tough week as news network boss Chris Licht told employees to prepare for a round of layoffs.

The cuts were expected as CNN parent company Warner Bros. Discovery looks to cut costs across the company to help reduce debt.

Like the rest of the traditional TV business, CNN faces a future of slowing pay-TV subscription revenue growth and a declining advertising market.

Licht said in a memo that those who lose their jobs will be notified on Wednesday or Thursday. He did not provide any information about the extent of the cuts.

According to people familiar with the discussions within the network, the on-air contributors will be among the first to know if they will be fired.

Contributors are not employees but are contracted to act as talking heads or experts who appear exclusively on the network. Most have an annual salary and are paid in the low six figures. Bigger names make up to $500,000 a year.

News departments tend to ramp up contributors for important ongoing stories like the COVID-19 pandemic and the impeachment hearings. CNN is said to have more than 200 contributors.

A person familiar with the discussions said the cuts would likely focus on employees in New York and Atlanta.

Licht has previously said the network will cut back at CNN Originals, the entity that acquires and produces documentaries series and films.

CNN is among a growing list of media companies taking action to tighten their belts as cable cutting lowers pay-TV subscription fees that help preserve traditional TV networks. The market for TV advertising time is also weakening, although data shows that the economy is not in recession.

AMC Networks announced it would cut its business significantly. Walt Disney Co. has also announced a hiring freeze; Comcast has offered buyouts to longtime employees; and Paramount Global is downsizing as part of a corporate restructuring.

CBS announced Wednesday a restructuring of its television network group that will also result in an undisclosed number of layoffs.

Streaming companies have also cut staff, with Roku cutting 200 jobs in response to a downturn in its advertising business. Media layoffs mount as CNN announces it will make cuts

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