This time, the hovering news helicopter overhead at Label Networks’ today December 8th isn’t because they’re filming another episode of CSI New York in our ‘hood (yes, CSI New York is actually filmed in downtown LA), but because The Tribune, owners of the Los Angeles Times, who’s building is just a block over, has announced it’s filing for bankruptcy. The Tribune, which also owns the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Cubs, and 23 television stations, is the latest victim of the slump in advertising and necessary re-org of media companies in general.
It’s also getting dire at MTV Networks: MTVJ John Norris got the boot along with some 250 others today. Part of the Viacom slash, which owns MTV Networks, some 7% of the workforce or 850 are expected to exit in the next week. Part of the cutbacks included Rhapsody, the online music venture that closed their office in New York and transferred the last remaining employee to Real Networks.
“The changes we are making in our organization and processes will better position Viacom to navigate the economic slowdown and generate sizable efficiencies that will help us drive our business as the marketplace stabilizes and conditions improve,” Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Dauman said in a statement. The company said the layoffs would be worldwide and cut across all divisions.
Others cutting back include NBC Universal which cut 500 jobs last Thursday, and Universal Pictures which cut 70 from it’s boutique Focus Features. Viacom reported that lack of ad revenue from its cable TV networks, which fell 37% in the 3rd quarter, were a part of the cause behind the restructure. Other parts were viewer ratings. For MTV, viewer ratings are down a whopping 22%. Interestingly, rumors were that many producers and associate producers who were supposed to be creating original content for MTV.com got the axe too -and that most had not been producing such content for awhile.
Unfortunately, Telemundo, the Spanish-language unit of NBC cut 5% of its workforce and it’s rumored that Lionsgate, the indie movie and TV studio are going to be cutting 8% of its workforce.
So can things get any worse for media companies? Apparently so. Warner Bros. and HBO are rumored to the be “tightening up” this month which will probably mean more lay-offs to come.