CNN begins layoffs while economy suffers uncertainity

Employees of the CNN network were informed by the company that layoffs had commenced. This move by the company is expected to impact hundreds of staffers at the global news network and mark the deepest cuts to the organization in years.

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In an all-staff memo, the cuts were described by Chris Licht, who took over as chief executive of the network in May, as a “gut punch” to the organization and told employees that “it is incredibly hard to say goodbye to anyone member of the CNN team, much less many.”

Since Licht informed the employees last month that “unsettling” changes lie ahead, the staff at the company had been anxiously bracing for the layoffs. It was also said by Licht recently that the company would notify a “limited number of individuals,” largely paid contributors, that they have been let go. At the conclusion of the cuts, Licht said that he will “follow up with more details.” In his memo, Licht said that it will be a “difficult time for everyone,” reported CNN.

These layoffs are the aftermath of media companies being battered by brutal economic headwinds that have taken a bat to the advertising sector. When Licht signaled in October that large cuts were coming, he noted that there is “widespread concern over the global economic outlook” and that CNN “must factor that risk into [its] long-term planning.”

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As other media organizations work to best position themselves for the stormy economic climate, they have also cut costs in their companies. AMC Networks (AMCX) announced lately that it would cut 20% of its staff, while Disney (DIS) also said recently that the company needed to restructure. In recent months, Facebook (FB)-parent Meta, and other social media companies, which also rely on advertising revenue, have also executed layoffs.

CNN was spared from the cuts that happened to the industry during the pandemic.

The last major cuts to occur at the organization were in 2018, before this year’s cuts. In 2018, less than 50 people lost their jobs as the company restructured its digital business.

Earlier this year, WarnerMedia, which is CNN’s former parent company, merged with Discovery, creating a media juggernaut laced with billions of dollars in debt and a need to slash costs across the board. In April, when the merger had just been completed, the company announced it was shuttering the streaming service CNN+ a month after it was launched.

Investors were promised by David Zaslav that he will find more than $3 billion in savings in the combined organization, as he is the chief executive of Warner Bros. Discovery, the company that was formed when WarnerMedia and Discovery became one.

Licht said in October that a months-long review of the business was made by him after he took over as head of CNN, which led him to identify changes that should be made.

And as CNN has made smaller cuts to parts of its business in the last several months, it seems like that some of those changes have already been implemented.

Employees affected by this week’s cuts will be notified “through an in-person meeting or via Zoom, depending on your location,” Licht said in a recent all-staff memo.

Here is what Licht’s memo reads: “In those meetings, you will receive information specific to you about notice period or any severance that would apply, and your anticipated last day. I want to be clear that everyone who is bonus eligible will still receive their 2022 bonuses, which are determined by company performance.”

The cuts will “affect both our departing colleagues and those who remain” and promised to provide employees “resources designed to support” them, Licht has acknowledged.

“Let’s take care of each other this week,” Licht concluded.

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