CNN informed employees on Wednesday that layoffs have begun, a move that is expected to impact hundreds of Global News Network employees and mark the deepest cuts to the organization in years.
Chris Licht, who took over as the network’s chief executive in May, described the cuts in a memo to all staff as a “boost” to the organization and told employees that ” it’s incredibly hard to say goodbye to a much fewer CNN crew member.
Employees at the company have been anxiously preparing for the layoffs since Licht informed them last month that “troubling” changes awaited them.
Licht said on Wednesday the company would notify a “limited number of people,” the highly paid contributors, that they had been terminated. He said the company will “notify affected employees” on Thursday. Licht said at the end of the cuts that he “will follow up with more details.”
“It will be a difficult time for everyone,” Licht said candidly in his memo.
CNN declined to say on Wednesday exactly how many employees would be affected by the layoffs.
The layoffs come as media companies are battered by brutal economic headwinds that have hit the advertising industry. Licht noted in October, when he signaled that major cuts were coming, that there was “widespread concern about the global economic outlook” and that CNN “must consider this risk in [its] long term planning.
Other media organizations have also cut costs as they strive to position themselves as best they can in the stormy economic climate. Disney (DIS) said last week that the company needed to restructure and AMC Networks (AMCX) announced on Tuesday that it would cut 20% of its workforce. Social media companies such as Meta, the parent company of Facebook (FB), which also depend on ad revenue, have also made layoffs in recent months.
CNN, which still posts hundreds of millions of dollars in profits, has been spared the cuts that have wreaked havoc on the industry during the pandemic. Prior to this year, the last significant cuts to the organization date back to 2018, when less than 50 people lost their jobs as the company restructured its digital business.
The cuts to the organization also come after CNN’s former parent company WarnerMedia merged with Discovery earlier this year, creating a media juggernaut laden with billions of dollars in debt and a need to cut costs at all levels. levels. The merger had just been completed in April when the company announced it was shutting down the CNN+ streaming service a month after its launch.
David Zaslav, CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, the company that was created when WarnerMedia and Discovery became one, promised investors it would find more than $3 billion in savings from the combined organization.
After Licht took over as head of CNN, he conducted a review of the company for several months. That review led him to identify changes that should be made, Licht said in October. Some of these changes have already been implemented, as CNN has made small cuts to parts of its business over the past few months.
Licht said in his memo to all staff on Wednesday that employees affected by this week’s cuts will be notified “through an in-person meeting or via Zoom, depending on your location.”
“At these meetings, you will receive information specific to you about the notice period or any compensation that would apply, and your expected last day,” Licht said. “I want to be clear that everyone who is eligible for bonuses will still receive their 2022 bonuses, which are determined by company performance.”
Licht acknowledged that the cuts “will affect both our departing colleagues and those who remain” and promised to provide employees with “resources designed to support them”.
“Let’s take care of each other this week,” Licht said.
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