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Friday, December 5, 2008

Woes in the media world continue

At Viacom and NBC Universal more than a thousand jobs are being shed before Christmas, according to the New York Times.

Sumner M. Redstone has announced that Viacom would shave seven percent of its workforce, and freeze salaries for top managers, in an effort to save about $200 million next year. NBC Universal, likewise, is going to lay off five hundred staff, including some veteran correspondents.

At Universal Studios, a memo from chairman Marc Shmuger announces that staff numbers will be cut by three percent, and the studios will be "scaling back on travel, overtime, consultants, premiers, conferences, newspaper marketing and general administrative costs."

"This kind of message is never easy," said Jeffrey A. Zucker, CEO of Universal (which is owned by the General Electric Company). Executives at the Walt Disney Company, the News Corporation and CBS are preparing themselves to issue that "kind of message," too, as sales and advertising revenue dry up.

Employees who have lost their jobs at Viacom, including those at Paramount Studios, will be paid until December 31, and then get some kind of severance payment. "Saying goodbye to friends and colleagues is always difficult," say the president, Philippe P. Dauman, and Thomas E. Dooley, the chief financial officer. It must be hard for them to feel their pain, though -- their salaries might be frozen, but they will still receive an end-of-year bonus for navigating the firm in rocky financial waters. Last year, Mr. Dauman's bonus was $7 million, and apparently the target this this year's sterling work is to be $9.5 million. Last year, Mr. Dooley's bonus was $5.6 million, and this year it is slated to be $7.6 million.

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