warner bros. continued the run of large media companies reacting to the economic climate by cutting jobs, saying it would eliminate about 7.5% of its existing workforce; it will not fill 200 more open positions. The cuts–which the company called "a last resort"–will come across all divisions, including the TV production and sizable syndication sales operations.
"We are very sad to announce that based on the global economic situation and current business forecasts, the studio will have to make staff reductions in the coming weeks in order to control costs," said top executives Barry Meyer and Alan Horn in a company memo. "This was a very difficult decision to make, and one that was not made easily. Despite the fact that the company performed solidly in 2008, this decision reflects changes necessary for stability and growth going forward."
The memo did say the company intends to make the cuts without "negatively affecting our divisions' ability to conduct business."
warner bros. declined to break down how the 600 jobs cut would be apportioned–in addition to TV, it operates a large and highly successful film studio. "The Dark Knight" was one of its big 2008 hits. The company is looking to outsource some back-office functions.
The TV studio produces prime-time network hits such as "Without a Trace" and cable successes such as "The Closer." But longtime hit "ER" is set to go off the air in the next few months.
At least two industry trends could hurt Warner Bros.' TV production business in the near future. With NBC adding a Jay Leno show in the weekly 10 p.m. hour and other networks possibly trying similar maneuvers, the hours for potentially scripted series warner bros. could be cut. And while warner bros. does have some reality-TV stalwarts, there are a slew of studios in that production game.
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